29 August, 2023, Sydney: The Australian Museum’s $57.5 million transformative renovation known as Project Discover has been named Best Public Building at the 2023 Property Council of Australia’s (PCA) Innovation & Excellence Awards.
Celebrated for sophisticated stripping back of past layers and exposure of the historical essence of the original Museum, Project Discover (Stage 1) received the Woods Bagot award for best public building, that recognises excellence in a new or refurbished building, at the PCA Awards in Sydney last Wednesday, 23 August, 2023.
Led by architect, Rachel Neeson, from Neeson Murcutt + Neille, and Joe Agius, from Cox Architecture, Project Discover is the largest renovation ever undertaken at Australia’s first museum and has transformed the iconic institution into a vibrant civic space, adding more than 3000sqm of new public space. The complex adaptive reuse project delivered a blockbuster touring exhibition hall, enhanced visitor facilities, as well as member and education spaces.
The PCA award is the tenth major accolade received by Project Discover. Other major recognitions include the National Award for Public Architecture, and three major awards at the 2021 Australian Institute of Architects (AIA) NSW Architecture Awards, including its top honour, the NSW Architecture Medallion, 2021 Australian Interior Design Awards – Award for Public Design, 2021 DIA Designers Australia Awards – Award of Merit and 2021 National Trust Awards – Commendation for Conservation: Built Heritage.
Director and CEO, Australian Museum, Kim McKay AO, said the AM is excited by the recognition of the renovated new spaces, which is the first step in transforming the heritage buildings of the Australian Museum into a contemporary, open and light-filled cultural space for visitors.
“Project Discover has opened up the Australian Museum and helped achieve our goals of improving the visitor experience and attracting more visitors,” she said.
“The result is a new civic space for Sydney where visitors enjoy the architecture alongside the exhibitions, including our newly renovated permanent Pasifika Gallery – Wansolmoana, opening in October, and the upcoming blockbuster exhibition Ramses & the Gold of the Pharaohs, which opens in November.
“We have a bold vision for the AM, with Stage 1, including Project Discover completed on time and on budget, we can now accommodate world-class exhibitions and are on track to create a world-class museum with the best possible opportunities for our scientists, our curators, our visitors and the community. It’s an incredibly exciting time for the future of the AM.”
About the Australian Museum
The Australian Museum (AM) was founded in 1827 and is the nation’s first museum. It is internationally recognised as a natural science and culture institution focused on Australia and the Pacific. As custodian of more than 22 million objects and specimens, the AM is uniquely positioned to provide a greater understanding of the region through its scientific research, exhibitions, and public and education programs. Through the Australian Museum Research Institute (AMRI), the AM also plays a leading role in conserving Australia’s biodiversity through understanding the environmental impacts of climate change, potential security threats and invasive species.
Claire Vince, Media and Communications Adviser
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