It cost just under $400 million dollars and took four years to build, but the new Western Australian Museum will soon be unveiled.
Three times bigger than the old one, it will open on Saturday November 21 with a celebratory nine-day festival. The new museum is redeveloped around the original heritage buildings in Northbridge that date back to 1855.
The museum explores the history of Western Australia with stories shared about its landscape, people and prominence in the world. There are displays about WA’s past, present and future.
The people’s museum
More than 50,000 people were given the opportunity to have input into this museum project, contributing thoughts about the themes in the exhibitions and the displays.
Four community panels made up of 57 Western Australian people from across the State have met four times per year since 2015. The community panels have provided detailed input into the visitor experiences in the Museum.
High priority was given to the museum in terms of accessibility and inclusive design. VisAbility’s Access Consultant, David Vosnacos, was a member of the Access and Inclusion Community Panel.
David and members of all the panels were given a private tour of the Museum and asked to give feedback.
The idea is that this Museum is for the people and created by the people so it could capture the history of Western Australia. It explores the different cultures, its industry and the State’s geographic landscapes.David Vosnacos
“There are plenty of multi-sensory displays which appeal to the different senses such as sound, sight, touch and smell. An audio guide is available on a Museum app. This gives extra information to complement what’s on display,” he adds.
“From authentic objects to interactive and multimedia experiences, this is a modern museum which has made accessibility a priority, both with the design of the building and the exhibits within it.”
So what are the key accessible features of the new WA Museum?
Inclusive features include:
- Tactile exhibits at waist height. Lots of exhibits to touch which encourage interaction. Wheelchair accessibility is a priority with displays at appropriate height.
- Museum app. An app which creates a comprehensive integrated experience. This app means people can navigate around the displays and learn about the stories and themes in the Museum.
- Exhibits accommodate wheelchair access. Any raised platforms for a large exhibit are wide enough to accommodate a wheelchair. Ramps rather than stairs, so that wheelchair users can pass through larger immersive exhibits.
- Braille and large print signage. Braille signage on lifts and public toilets for people with low vision. Display information is in large print.
- Good acoustics. No excessive noise due to state-of-the-art acoustic ceilings.
- Enhanced lighting. Special attention to enhance both artificial and natural light.
- Sensory experiences. You can enjoy many of the experiences through your senses. Smell the vanilla of the biscuits cooking in the Mills and Ware factory, the salt air in the great outdoors and the eucalypts of the WA bush.
We asked David about his favourite exhibits and displays.
- Blue whale skeleton. Most Perth residents will remember the blue whale which left the display in 2003. It returns suspended from the ceiling in a custom framework so it looks very dramatic. A specialist team from overseas undertook the restoration works.
- Aboriginal stories. Stories of traditional and contemporary Aboriginal cultures are present throughout, in all galleries and in a dedicated exhibition.
- The new Museum incorporates the heritage buildings. The heritage buildings are artefacts in their own right.
- Individual stories. Personal stories from people of all ages from diverse backgrounds receive a mention throughout offering a snapshot of WA’s vibrant communities.
The Museum will be free to everyone for the first eighteen months. You can download a Museum fact sheet for more information.