Australia’s first public museum, the Australian Museum in Sydney will undergo extensive redevelopment as part of a $285-million project to increase the museum’s exhibition space and introduce new education and community facilities. The masterplan was recently unveiled in Sydney.

Produced by Hames Sharley, the masterplan titled ‘Barrabuwari Muru’, meaning ‘future path’ in the language of the Indigenous Gadigal people, proposes a new extension to be located on a 2,700sqm site at the museum’s eastern quarter on the corner of William and Yurong Streets. The extension will triple the museum’s existing public floor space from 6,500sqm to 20,000sqm, allowing them to exhibit as much as 20 per cent of their total collection of 18 million objects. The current display represents just one per cent of the collection.

The masterplan proposes a grand hall at the centre of the site, replacing existing buildings between the heritage-listed parts of the museum. The grand hall will be more than 70 metres long, surrounded by historic sandstone walls, and could accommodate up to 2,000 people. A building envelope of 13 storeys has been proposed for the addition, subject to approval by the City of Sydney.


Kim McKay, director and CEO of the Australian Museum explains that the proposed building will house a large gallery space for temporary exhibitions. The building will also include new education and community facilities with learning spaces and a new theatre, an Indigenous and Pacific cultural centre, the existing Australian Museum Research Institute (AMRI), and new DNA labs to expand the work of AMRI and the Australian Museum’s wildlife genomics team.


The Australian Museum will conduct a two-stage international design competition for the new building. Construction of the building is expected to begin in 2018 with the opening scheduled for 2022.