Australian Museum to reopen in November after major revamp

The Australian Museum, Sydney. Photo: The Australian Museum/www.australian.museum.

After 15 months and $57.5 million in works, the Australian Museum has announced that it will reopen to the public on Saturday, 28 November.

Australia’s first museum and one of Sydney’s major cultural institutions, the museum has redeveloped its existing public and exhibition spaces, and converted an extra 3000 square metres of ‘back of house’ areas to public space.

Australian Museum Director and CEO, Kim McKay AO, said the venture – dubbed Project Discover – was anchored by the new Grand Hall, which provides a new focal point for the facility, which was originally founded in 1827. 

“Without doubt, the heart of the museum is the new Grand Hall, which is the length of three tennis courts,” McKay said.

“It will become a popular meeting space and new after-hours event space for Sydney. 

“Like a public square, we will be able to host music and performances, as well as provide a place to relax and contemplate, discuss and debate, enjoy a coffee and experience an exhibition,” she said.  

Project Discover has also seen the creation of a new Museum Shop, a second cafe, an expanded members’ lounge, new cloakrooms and other amenities. 

The touring exhibiting hall has been increased from 850 square metres to 1500 square metres, allowing the museum to host one major international travelling exhibition and two smaller exhibitions simultaneously. 

Promotional video exploring Project Discover. Video: Australian Museum/YouTube.

Significantly, the changes to the museum are not just physical, with general admission being made free to the public, and fees applying only to major individual exhibitions. 

“Making general admission free to the public – both adults and children – is the icing on the cake for this extraordinary redevelopment and one which the NSW Government is honoured to support,” said NSW Minister for the Arts, the Hon. Don Harwin MLC.

“The museum is at the cultural and scientific heart of the city. Project Discover propels this iconic institution into a new era,” Harwin said.

The NSW Government met the lion’s share of Project Discover’s cost, contributing $50.5 million. The remainder was raised from private donors.

The first major exhibition at the upgraded museum will be Tyrannosaurs – Meet the Family. It is an update of one of the museum’s most popular exhibitions, which has been touring the world for the past five years.

The Australian Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year exhibition will also return to the museum in time for reopening.

The Australian Museum, located at the intersection of William and College Streets, is the largest museum in the Southern Hemisphere, containing over 21.9 million objects and specimens.

It is recognised as the premier natural science and culture institution focused on Australia and the South Pacific.

A Covid-safe plan has been developed for the museum’s reopening, including measures around sign-ins, signage and sanitising. For more information, visit https://australian.museum/visit/covid-19/.

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