As we open our doors on Monday 11 October with a wholehearted ‘welcome back!’, we hope you’ll be as ready as we are to soak in the full effects of our treasured space.

Being away from our ‘home’ for four long months has sharply highlighted for the AM team why our iconic institution yields such potential to change and charge our inner energy. ­

Simply put, museums are good for the soul.

As a young girl growing up in London, (we moved to the UK from Australia when I was five years old), I visited a wide variety of museums on weekends with my parents and sister in tow.

I didn’t know it then, but there was a Platform 9¾ effect as affecting as any Harry Potter spell taking place with successive visits as I took one step from my usual world and was whisked into another. One with millions of human, animal and plant families that were nothing like me or my life on earth so far.

These successive outings first fired my curiosity and then became a mesmerising and frequent pause for awe. There was space to feel into learning. To be thinking things through for myself.

Life suddenly felt bigger. Open.

The great science and natural history museums are tenderly and expertly designed to allow us space again to really feel, to not only see the collections they hold, but to hold space for us to immerse in our senses, and to create a wider feeling of community.

We need this more than ever after the past few months.

And of course - the research backs it up. Far beyond hubs of knowledge and culture, museums have internationally been shown to boost mental health and emotional wellbeing - providing heartening social experiences and helping lessen feelings of anxiety and social isolation, which most of us would have experienced during lockdown.

Museums have been called “safe places for unsafe ideas,” and I agree. This is a concept which helped inspire our mission at the AM to ignite wonder, inspire debate and drive change.

We can’t wait to welcome you back and offer our transformed museum as a place for decompression, socialisation and an opportunity to expand your understanding of the world around you.

Whether it’s learning about our nation’s history from First Nations voices in our ground-breaking Unsettled exhibition, now extended through to January 2022, witnessing the changing nature of our environment through the stunning images in the 2021 Australian Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year exhibition opening 30 October, or exploring our other permanent galleries, the Australian Museum provides room to roam, be roused and feel refreshed.

Come back into your senses with us. Who knows what it will set off in you.

Oh, and did I mention it’s all free too? We’ve decided to keep Unsettled free to everyone as it’s such an important exhibition. When you visit, you’ll see ‘tap and go’ donation terminals around the AM, so feel free to make a contribution towards our exciting exhibitions, education programs and science.

Welcome back.