Stage One: Australian Museum Transformation

Australian Museum unveils new contemporary glass entrance.

Australian Museum Transformation - Exterior Crystal Hall

Australian Museum Transformation - Exterior Crystal Hall
Creator: Neeson Murcutt Architects © Australian Museum

After 125 years of its entrance on College Street, The Australian Museum, Australia’s first museum and one of the nation’s most important scientific research, educational and cultural institutions, is building a new entry on William Street.

The contemporary ‘floating glass’ entry hall designed by Neeson Murcutt Architects was unveiled today by NSW Deputy Premier, the Hon Troy Grant.

This investment in the Australian Museum will significantly upgrade one of Australia’s most important scientific and educational institutions, improving the State’s cultural assets which are a major component of our visitor economy. This new entrance and expanded gallery space will provide the Australian Museum with an opportunity to attract new domestic and international visitors,” the Hon Mike Baird, Premier of New South Wales, said.

According to the Deputy Premier, Minister for the Arts, the Hon Troy Grant, “The upgrade to the entry allows the Australian Museum to expand its permanent gallery areas with the creation of over 630m2 of exhibition space. Showcasing a rich array of biodiversity featuring more than 400 animal specimens, Wild Planet, is the first permanent gallery to be added in over 50 years, and will transform the visitor experience at the museum.

Interior Crystal Hall

Neeson Murcutt’s landmark design for the new entrance, the Crystal Hall, will also showcase the museum’s signature crystal collection. “This bespoke public architecture complements the Museum’s existing heritage buildings, and relocating the entrance from College Street to William Street will markedly improve visitor accessibility and enhance our prominent CBD location,” Kim McKay AO, executive director and CEO of the Australian Museum, said.

The Australian Museum is committed to sustainability and the new entrance will be carbon-neutral, designed with minimal energy costs in mind. We are very grateful for the support of the NSW Government which has enabled us to create this new accessible entrance,” she said.

Named the Crystal Hall, in recognition of the glass pleated facade, the new design on William Street is by award-winning Sydney-based Neeson Murcutt Architects, led by principal Rachel Neeson and architect-in-association Joe Grech. “The Museum has a rich scientific and architectural heritage, and this development endeavours to acknowledge and express in an elegant and contemporary manner its international standing.” Neeson said.

Wild Planet

In addition to the entry and new Wild Planet gallery, the Australian Museum is relocating its cafe to a refurbished rooftop location on Level 4, taking advantage of the spectacular views across the city skyline. The new roof-top cafe will be accessed via a new elevator.

The $5.5 million transformation project comprises a special grant of $2.5 million from the NSW Government, along with funds from the museum’s capital and partnership budgets. The project has also been supported by the NSW State Government Architects Office.

The project includes:

  • Crystal Hall, a new purpose-built glass entry hall featuring a bespoke crystalline curtain of coloured glass diamonds in the soft tones of refracted light to welcome visitors and accommodate ticketing and out-of-hours events
  • Museum Walk, a 4.5-metre-wide floating ramp to provide full accessibility from the corner of College and William streets to the new entry hall
  • Removal of the empty substation on William Street to create a street-level sheltered garden under the Crystal Hall
  • Closure of the current College Street entrance and reinstatement and restoration of exhibition space in the heritage-listed Barnett Wing (built in 1870)
  • Improved public access to the museum as well as improved visitor flow and wayfinding.

Claire Vince , Media Advisor
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