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A story of design, technology, material and culture

Material World is an evocative new exhibition exploring the story of design, which is one of necessity, creativity, commerce and research and is shaped by technology and materials, both traditional and new.

See objects from research centres, designers and the National Museum of Australia’s collection on show in our Gandel Atrium. These objects are evidence of the creativity and innovation of First Nations peoples, early settlers, scientists, engineers, designers, artists and architects.

Enhance your experience

Take our free Material World tour

Listen online as curator Lyndon Anderson explores some of the most interesting objects and the stories they reveal in this free tour.

The Museum magazine, issue 22

Read our special design issue, with articles commissioned by Lyndon Anderson and authors including Luke Keogh and Penny Craswell.

From First Nations applications to outer space

Material World exhibition 1:16

Developed in collaboration with the Swayn Gallery of Australian Design, Material World was curated by Swayn Senior Fellow of Australian Architecture, Adjunct Professor Lyndon Anderson.

Material World features objects made from glass, leather, ceramics, metal and wood. 'The exhibition can be viewed as a whole or as five smaller exhibitions, each focusing on a different material and how its use has evolved from First Nations applications to outer space exploration,' Adjunct Professor Anderson said.

Read the media release

Banner image: Vitreous knit (detail), 2022, designed and made by Max Maxwell and Sam Tomkins, Faculty of Arts and Design, University of Canberra. National Museum of Australia

Video image: Fish Trap in Glass, 2013, by Jenni Kemarre Martiniello, Arrernte. National Museum of Australia

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