National Museum of Australia
Life in Australia Gallery & Discovery Centre Redevelopment
The National Museum of Australia (NMA) is one of Australia’s newest cultural institutions opening in March 2001 on the Acton Peninsular in Canberra. The Museum focuses on the relationship between the land, nation and people covering:
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history and culture
- Australia’s history and society since 1788
- The interaction of people with the environment
The NMA developed a Masterplan outlining a strategy to double the size of the current exhibition space, lead innovation in new experiential technologies, and enhance commercial operations.
A key component of the plan was a major program to renew the permanent galleries, which were showing significant signs of age, non-compliance with some aspects of the building code, a confusing visitor experience and outdated exhibition narrative, and a lack of flexibility of the space.
In addition, the old exhibition spaces were not expected to accommodate the museum’s growing audience, with visitor numbers increasing year-on-year to more than one million visitors in 2018.
The NMA sought to redevelop several exhibition and back of house spaces into:
- A new permanent gallery titled Life in Australia, which is focused on Australia’s environmental history and how people interact with its ecosystems.
- A new Discovery Centre that focused on the exploration of stories and collection in fun, positive and playful ways for young visitors and families.
RP Infrastructure was engaged by the NMA to provide project management services, from the detail documentation phase through to construction completion, ensuring the objectives of the gallery redevelopment project were achieved within the cost and time constraints.
The project provided some key challenges for the project team including: undertaking concurrent ‘fast track’ contractor’s design completion and construction works, whilst achieving client sign off; minimising the impact of construction on NMA’s operating environment and complying with local authority requirements; and undertaking works on the confined site located on Commonwealth land subject to NCA requirements that required meticulous planning of material movements and site establishment.