Time capsules in roof of Shine Dome capture hopes for the future

Michael Weaver 3 May 2021
Time capsules being placed in the renovated roof of the Shine Dome

Time capsules are placed in the renovated roof of the Shine Dome in Canberra. Photo: Martin Ollman, Australian Academy of Science.

In a matter of minutes during a hailstorm in January 2020, Canberra’s Shine Dome was all but destroyed. More than a year later, workers have laid the last of the copper tiles, permanently sealing in the original copper roof which was severely damaged in the hailstorm.

They also place time capsules in the roof of the dome that will be there for an eternity.

The restoration also returns the Australian Academy of Science’s Shine Dome to its original glory while improving its structural integrity and making it waterproof.

Roof restoration began in November 2020, with a new copper layer being laid over a timber frame, with waterproofing materials in between. The original copper remains beneath these layers.

A total of 1888 tiles of copper have been installed – each custom made and weighing approximately 15,500kg in total.

Workers restoring Shine Dome roof

Restoration work on the Shine Dome roof. Photo: Australian Academy of Science.

The time capsules contain messages from Australia’s top scientists, Fellows of the Academy, newspaper headlines documenting the events of 2020, and other historical documents, including the complete genome of COVID-19.

Chief executive of the Australian Academy of Science Anna-Maria Arabia said future generations who may discover the capsule will read the reflections of Fellows, including their views on the potential impact their work will have in 100 years’ time, and what they hope will have been discovered by then.

“I hope that by 2100 we have a fast pipeline to personalised medicine,” wrote Professor Martina Stenzel in her time capsule message regarding what she hopes will be discovered in her field by 2100.

“A circular economy running on net zero emissions,” wrote Professor Robin Batterham.

Items placed in Shine Dome time capsule

Items placed in the time capsule in the roof of the Shine Dome. Photo: Australian Academy of Science.

Ms Arabia said the documents and historical materials in the time capsule will become an important reflection of 2020 and the Shine Dome.

“It is a small sample of the history of the Academy, of its building and of the extraordinary knowledge created and disseminated by its Fellowship,” she said.

“The time capsule seeks to capture the significant and tumultuous events of 2020, many of which shaped the way we live in Australia and across the world.

“Should you discover this time capsule, we ask that you look back from the future in order to assess our actions and inactions, and to inform your way forward as custodians of our planet and all its biodiversity.”

The Shine Dome has remained open for business as an event venue during the repairs and will be officially reopened in a ceremony later this year.


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