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Design and make your very own museum inspired by the National Museum of Australia building, and other museums around the world.

How to make a museum

Is the National Museum like any other building you’ve ever seen? Do you know what it represents? If you could build a museum, how would it look and what would be on display?

The National Museum of Australia's entrance and loop
Museum entrance and loop

Skill level: ★★★ Challenging – you may need an adult to help
60 minutes

What you need:

Building blocks – the overall shape

  • pencils, paper and rulers for the design
  • boxes of varying sizes
  • foam or other packaging
  • lids
  • modelling clay or plasticine
  • toilet rolls
  • paper or plastic cups
  • straws
  • pipe cleaners
  • scissors.

Construction – how to join it all together

  • pins
  • glue
  • wire
  • skewers
  • sticky tape.

Decoration – the design elements

  • pens or pencils
  • oil pastels or paints
  • different types of paper – patterned, textured, plain or newsprint
  • coloured sticky tape or stickers.


Think things through:

  • What kind of museum are you building? What will be inside?
  • Is it a social history museum, like the National Museum of Australia, or is it a natural history museum with stuffed animals and dinosaur fossils? Or it could be more specialised with just planes, fashion or coins on display.
  • Perhaps your building design could match what is going to be on display inside. Will the building fit into the landscape? Will it sit along a lake or in a forest?
  • Where do people enter and exit? Museums often make their front entrance very impressive.
  • Is the building one level or more? What shape will it be? Will you use rectangular, round or triangle shapes? Or a combination of many different shapes?
  • What will be the name of your museum?

Make some plans

Architects make drawings, plans and scale models of a building first. This helps them to work out what the building will look like and what materials they will need.

On some paper, sketch your ideas and draw an outline of the shape of the building you want to make. You might do many drawings before you get it right. Here are two examples:


Look at what materials you have available. Lay all the different materials out in front of you and see which would work best together to bring your drawing to life.You may need to cut some things to size.

Experiment with gluing, pinning or taping all the pieces together to get the basic shape. Ask an adult to help you with cutting, pinning or gluing.

A partly finished museum model.

If your museum building was real, what surface would it have? Would it be made of metal, wood, glass or something else? How many windows and doors would it have? You could draw or cut out these features or use coloured or textured paper to decorate surfaces.

Tip: If you are interested in something a bit architecturally different, like the National Museum of Australia, you might want curvy walls. Ask an adult to help you cut lines on one side of a thick piece of cardboard (not all the way through). Keep doing this all the way along and then you can bend it into a curve.

A compilation of three photos demonstrating cardboard cutting technique.
A model structure.

When your museum building is finished you might like to draw or add people or objects, using paper or modelling clay.

A model structure.

Exploratorium Museum

This is what we made. It is a museum full of the history of machines and engines.

Do you like our big industrial windows, cog mural and gigantic steam tower?

Share your creation

We’d love to see your creation by emailing us a photo to:

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