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13 January 2020

Exciting interactive and immersive digital experiences relating to Australia’s unique environment and natural history will feature in a new gallery at the National Museum of Australia, to be designed by the team behind the National September 11 Memorial and Museum in New York and the renewal of the Hyde Park Barracks in Sydney.

Artists impression of a gallery space, with several large killer whale sculptures suspended from the ceiling, and various people looking at objects and a screen showing footage of a whale.
Image by Local Projects

After a competitive tender the renowned ‘experience’ design firm, Local Projects, has been appointed to develop the Life in Australia (working title) gallery. Work will get underway in early 2020.

With an international reputation for innovative exhibition and ‘experience’ design, Local Projects is perhaps best known for their ground-breaking work on the National September 11 Memorial and Museum in New York. They also produced ZERO for the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, the highly-acclaimed Gallery One at Cleveland Museum of Art and the London Mithraeum situated on the site of Bloomberg’s European headquarters in London.

National Museum director Dr Mathew Trinca said he was excited to bring Local Project’s unique approach to the design of the new permanent gallery which will be dedicated to the Australian environment and is scheduled to open in 2021.

‘We’re incredibly excited to welcome Local Projects to Canberra and I know audiences will be delighted by their world-class creative approach to exhibition design which puts the visitor front and centre and fosters public engagement with the displays in new and innovative ways,’ said Dr Trinca.

‘When the new gallery opens in 2021, visitors will be immersed in the incredible ecological and natural history of the Australian continent and reflect on the role they play in this important and challenging story.

‘Over the next year our curatorial team will be working closely with Local Projects to create a gallery that harnesses the power of the Museum’s collection and the stories behind the many objects that will feature in the gallery, while challenging traditional approaches to museum display.’

Principal and Founder of Local Projects, Mr Jake Barton said, ‘We are grateful and humbled to bring to life the story of Australia’s vibrant and unique natural history. The opportunity to offer both scholarly depth and immersive and innovative experience design is truly unique within this context.’

‘We hope that by connecting Australians and tourists alike to the continent’s rich biodiversity and seasonal rhythms, we’ll encourage those audiences to express greater love, care, and attention towards the natural environments we call home.’

The Life in Australia gallery will explore the vast and complex Australian continent, its ancient origins, geological features, unique species, natural forces and the part humans play in the ecosystem. It will feature more than 1200 objects, many of which have never been displayed before.

The development of the new permanent gallery is part of the Museum’s transformative Master Plan, announced at the end of 2018, which seeks to upgrade the Museum’s display space and extend the range of public experiences.

The first elements of the Master Plan have been realised with the 2019 completion of the stunning new garden forecourt at the Museum’s entrance. The garden features more than 120 different native Australian plants and an impressive mirrored Welcome Wall.

Work on the development of the Life in Australia gallery will commence in early 2020 with an expected opening date in 2021.

Some galleries will be inaccessible in 2020, however there will be plenty to see and do at the Museum during this time including the First Australians and Landmarks galleries, special exhibitions like DreamWorks Animation, Kspace, a virtual reality experience, as well as the Museum’s lakeside cafe and shop.

Media contact: Diana Streak, 02 6208 5091 | 0422 536 064 or media@nma.gov.au

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