Facelift for Australia’s oldest museum

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Facelift for Australia’s oldest museum
The new entrance to the Australian Museum in Sydney by Neeson Murcutt and Joseph Grech // © Michael Nicholson
Facelift for Australia’s oldest museum
The new entrance to the Australian Museum in Sydney by Neeson Murcutt and Joseph Grech // © Michael Nicholson

The Australian Museum in Sydney, the first museum in Australia and the British colony, has been given a glittering new pleated glass facelift by Neeson Murcutt and Joseph Grech (architects in association).

Two dozen 8.5-metre-high stainless steel-framed glass panels stand sentinel to form twelves pleats that make up the northern facade of the museum’s new entrance hall on William Street.

Dubbed “Crystal Hall,” the new pavilion protrudes from the museum’s neoclassical wing, designed by James Barnet in 1890, like a jewel set in sandstone. Behind the pleated glass curtain, 48 diamond-shaped coloured glass blades refract and diffuse the northern sun.

“Our concept was to create a new glass façade that would generate its own interest running parallel to the existing sandstone façade.” architect Rachel Neeson said.

“[It’s] an abstracted crystal,” Neeson continues. “It hints at what you might find inside the museum itself.”

Indeed, the new 160-square-metre space will not only function as a new entrance but also serve as an additional exhibition space for the museum’s 1.8 million objects. The opening exhibition will showcase the museum’s crystal collection. []

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