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Construction of the Collections & Research Building began in late 2006. The building opened in November 2008.

The $32-million addition is the first major building to be constructed at the Museum in 20 years. It integrates a mosaic of spaces built at different times over the last 150 years and represents a very concrete commitment by the NSW Government to the leading-edge research being conducted at Australia's first museum.

The collections, laboratories and staff can be visited by industry colleagues, visiting academics and community groups by appointment.

High-tech science facilities

Laboratories have been fitted out with modern facilities and research equipment allowing teams to work together on important taxonomic and ecological research projects. The DNA facility is equipped with separate laboratories for DNA extraction and sequencing, and a freezer room for holding tissues samples. The DNA extraction process is automated using sophisticated machinery and multiple samples are processed rapidly with the aid of two robotic liquid handlers.

The design of the new building vastly improves working conditions for scientists who previously worked in heritage environments that were unsuitable for contemporary scientific study.

World-class collections facilities

The building's 5000 square metres of space provides world-class collection facilities. Temperature and humidity controlled environments ensure the long-term preservation of the Museum's important collections. To minimise transport-related damage to specimens the building's work spaces are sited in proximity to the storage areas.

Environmental design

The architects Johnson Pilton Walker, led by design team Richard Johnson and Graeme Dix, used environmentally sustainable principles throughout the new building. The layout maximises the use of natural lighting and a double-skin façade helps insulate the building against the extremes of temperature and humidity.

The western (solid) side and inner areas of the building house the collection areas. Away from external walls and windows, it is easier to control the narrow conditions of temperature and humidity here needed for safe housing of specimens.