The museum will bring together the University’s Art collection, Macleay collection and the Nicholson collection. Its former art gallery and Macleay museum are closed but the Nicholson Museum will remain open until early next year.
Construction of the five-level museum began a little more than a year ago. The near complete structure is now visible behind the scaffolding, and the pouring of concrete for all five floors complete. Located on a sloping site, three of these floors are below ground at the northern end of the building (closest to the Quadrangle) with one underground at the southern end.
The building’s underground basement will be dedicated to onsite storage which will allow more of our objects to be on hand. The remaining four floors will be dedicated to display galleries, object-based learning studios, a schools’ education room, an auditorium, staff offices, a conservation laboratory, and a shop and terraced cafeteria.
“For the first time we can see uncluttered interior spaces and imagine the galleries populated with exhibitions,” said Paul Donnelly, associate director. “The basement is equally exciting to the curators. It will eventually house more than half of our museum collections in the best possible environmental conditions.It’s exciting to see the museum materialise. When complete it will be a cutting-edge contemporary museum housing some of Australia’s most significant artistic, scientific and archaeological collections.”
The new building will sit comfortably in its frame of existing heritage trees. “Even at opening the museum will look as though it has been there a long time.” New landscaping has been designed with Australian natives in mind. Scribbly gums, tuckeroos, lilly pillies and kangaroo grass.
“Purpose- built lawns, outdoor sculptures and gathering spaces will improve the public outdoor areas surrounding the museum for staff, students and broader community use,” Dr Donnelly said.
When complete, the museum will have 2000 square metres of public exhibition area, triple the display space available at the University’s previous museums.