Last weekend when we were in Canberra the birthday girl asked if we could visit the Museum. I had no idea if there even WAS a museum, but a quick google search showed that there was and before we knew it we were headed that way for quick look around. The first thing that struck us was the architecture of the building. This was the place that had always caught my eye when we were travelling over the bridge towards Parliament House…a swirling, colourful structure that you would expect to see in Europe or in New York.
Completed in 2001 the building originated from a design competition that was won by the architects Ashton Raggatt McDougall and Robert Peck von Hartel Trethowan who started work on the 11 hectare site in 1996. Taken from the Museum website: ” The architecture and design of the National Museum of Australia was a milestone for a building of its type. Avoiding traditional museum interpretations, the architects developed a post-modern structure reflecting the diversity of the Museum’s collection. The most noticeable design feature of the Museum is the gigantic sculptural loop at the entrance – the most visible part of the Uluru line.”
This building is something else…every angle, detail, colour has been thought out and it’s a triumph of architecture.
I had no idea about what would be inside – what exhibitions, if the girls would be interested and what the cost would be…this was a complete blind visit. After we walked in and made a donation (entry is dead set FREE) we were given a quick run down with a map from a kind security guard and we headed into the museum and onto the exhibitions….that was once I stopped making everyone stop to look at the building and take a photo of every angle I could find.
The exhibitions are based loosely on the idea of Land, Nation and People. “The National Museum of Australia is a social history museum. We explore the land, nation and people of Australia. We focus on Indigenous histories and cultures, histories of European settlement and our interaction with the environment.” The girls, Rob and I all wandered through each section taking different things from it: for the girls it was the animals, skeletons and things that they could touch and interact with, for me the costumes and scenes from homes in the past and the wonderful selection of indigenous art. I was also really impressed with a dedicated kids area with cupboards they can open up to touch and feel things that they have seen as well as a workbook that Harper was particularly keen on – drawing in animals and items peppered throughout the exhibitions.
For me my very favourite part was the garden in the centre that the Museum is built around – The Garden of Australian Dreams. Each step you take through the garden represents 100km’s across the real landmass of our country. Kids can run through tunnels, over hills, and across to the dedicated kids area K Space where they could build their own homes of the future and watch a 3D film of them afterwards.
3 hours later we headed back up the highway home completely thrilled with our experience at the Museum…happy kids and adults who got something from it as well. And for free? No brainer.
Have you been to the National Museum of Australia?
What did you think?