Article Feature image - Hames Sharley Architecture, Urban Design, Planning and Interior Design

Hames Sharley has presented the detailed master plan proposal to make Sydney’s Australian Museum the premier museum in the Southern Hemisphere and place millions of previously hidden treasures on display.

If the proposed plans outlined in the master plan are passed by the New South Wales Government it will trigger the first step in a design to allow Australia’s first museum to display considerably more of its impressive collection of over 18 million objects, and will include a Grand Hall with capacity for 2,000 people that will also house a giant dinosaur skeleton.

“The Australian Museum’s extraordinary collection establishes it as one the world’s great museums, but it has been held back by the restrictions of its existing floor space and a history of buildings being added over time,” said Australia Museum Director and CEO Kim McKay.

The museum’s collection is the largest in the country yet its public floor space is currently the smallest of all major museums in Australia, allowing less than 1 percent of its collection to be displayed.

The proposal – developed in collaboration with the Australian Museum and consultants Deloitte – will turn a disparate collection of buildings into a cohesive museum site, with a grand exhibition space that will allow it to compete with the world’s most prominent museums and attract the most sought-after touring exhibits.

“We are fortunate to have our own 2,700 square metre development site and this will enable the AM to build a new large temporary exhibition space attracting major international blockbusters, allowing Sydney to compete on a global stage, as well as showcase our Pacific Collection, regarded as the finest in the world, alongside our extensive Aboriginal collection,” McKay said.

Hames Sharley’s report was submitted to the NSW Government in early December and proposes increasing the museum’s public floor space significantly, from its existing 6,500 square metres by building a new, 13 storey high wing offering impressive views to the north and east that take in the Art Gallery of New South Wales and Sydney harbour.

The proposed new wing will also preserve the 1850s former national school house and recommends a design to replace a car park and a range of smaller buildings. The Grand Hall will be covered with a glass atrium and will be built in the centre of the museum’s city block, revealing sandstone walls originally built by convicts. The new museum will be large enough to display 20% of the AM’s collection of more than 18 million objects, aims to attract more than 1.5 million visitors in the future.

Once the master plan is considered for approval and funding by the Government, the next stage is for the AM to hold an international architecture competition for the new building design.