Following a massive $57.5 million renovation, the Australian Museum has officially opened to the public.

The Museum, which was closed for the past 15 months, has undergone a major transformation with improved, expanded and reimagined public and exhibition spaces.

The reopening ceremony was held in the presence of NSW Premier, Gladys Berejiklian and Minister for the Arts Don Harwin, in the Museum’s new Hintze Hall.

The renovation, titled Project Discover, was funded by the NSW Government’s $50.5 million contribution as well as generous funding support of more than $7 million from the Museum’s private donors.

Delivered on time and on budget, the renovation includes more than 3,000sqm of new public space repurposed from back-of-house areas, a new Museum Shop, a second café, a new Members Lounge, new education rooms, cloaking and amenities. Visitors to the Museum can take advantage of the free general admission offered now to enjoy the newly revamped public spaces.

Thanks to the renovation, the AM will be able to host one major international travelling exhibition or two smaller exhibitions at the same time. Currently, two major exhibitions are on show including a special, ticketed exhibition, Tyrannosaurs – Meet the Family, and Australian Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year, which is free as part of the reopening.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian commented that the renovation placed the Australian Museum among the region’s finest natural history and cultural institutions.

“The Australian Museum is the country’s first museum so it is only fitting this world class institution has an upgraded home in the heart of Sydney.

“The expanded exhibition areas will house the world’s biggest and best travelling exhibitions and I’m excited for the opportunities it brings for the people of NSW and visitors from around the globe.”

Observing that the Museum was an important cultural home for the people of NSW and all Australians, Minister for the Arts Don Harwin said, “Our cultural institutions come alive only when we inhabit them. The renewed and expanded Australian Museum is a place for everyone to enjoy – all the time. A civic space where people can meet and spend time together, discover and explore.”

Australian Museum’s director and CEO, Kim McKay AO, who led the vision for Project Discover, said, “Museums are much more than collections on display – they are centres of discovery, learning and storytelling and places of social interaction.

“The Australian Museum has entered a new age – both physically and in its focus. Our new key focus areas of climate change, First Nations knowledge and scientific leadership through the Australian Museum Research Institute reflect the role of the Museum in today’s world.

“This is an important step towards the Australian Museum’s future, and we look forward to continuing to expand and evolve the Museum. Over the next three years, the AM will continue to open new galleries, including a new interactive education space and new Mineral, Pacific and Egyptian Galleries.”

Project Discover

Australian Museum’s redevelopment was driven by the design thinking of COX Architecture and Neeson Murcutt + Neille, the firm behind the award-winning Brian Sherman Crystal Hall, with Kane Constructions, who collaborated with Neeson Murcutt + Neille to build Brian Sherman Crystal Hall, managing the build.

Project Discover also saw the implementation of an effective construction waste strategy, where materials such as timber were recycled in the new exhibition spaces, helping achieve a more than 90% diversion from landfill for all demolition waste.

Additionally, an investment of $3 million, courtesy the Minister’s Sandstone Project, helped restore the heritage sandstone on the Barnet Wing and the sandstone fence surrounding the AM along College Street.

Photo: Director and CEO of Australian Museum, Kim McKay (c) is joined by Premier of NSW Gladys Berejklian, NSW Minister for the Arts Don Harwin and President of Trustees David Armstrong during the official reopening ceremony at the Australian Museum on November 26, 2020 in Sydney, Australia. Image: © Lisa Maree Williams