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What do you want in a museum?

By justcurious - 19 July 2011 35

Having read numerous comments on here about how much people dislike the National Museum, I am curious as to what people want the museum to be like?

NB: I DO NOT work at the museum.  I just have an interest in museums in general.

Please post your thoughts on what you would like your National Museum to be like. Please note, I am not asking what you DON’T want it to be 🙂

What’s Your opinion?

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35 Responses to
What do you want in a museum?
clueless70 9:38 pm 19 Jul 11

Please post your thoughts on what you would like your National Museum to be like.

An original design showing fidelity to place, dialogue with the four elements, evident structure and functional convergence.

Original design: the building was not copied – badly – from a design by Daniel Libeskind. The building is a unique and aesthetically satisfying adaptation to the different factors in the design brief, such as the site and the proposed function of the building.

Dialogue with the four elements: the integral structure of the building adapts to cold and hot weather, is watertight, and does not break if the subsoil moves. You can see aesthetically satisfying things inside from outside, and outside from inside.

Evident structure: you can see how the building works by looking at its various parts, and you don’t have to take the cover off to do so.

Functional convergence: the building can do various things, or give its users ways to do various things, with finite supplies of space and materials.

Bearing in mind the other condition of your request, may I suggest that the present museum satisfies few if any of these standard architectural desiderata. I personally think it defies comprehension that the winning design for this significant national building was stolen from Daniel Libeskind’s Jewish Museum Berlin. Of all things one might have wrenched from a specific cultural and historical context and slapped on that site…! The effect is one of low farce in architectural form, like the imitative follies in Arab oil states. So one Australian thing the National Museum does preserve for perpetuity, just by standing there in its present form, is the cultural cringe.

I-filed 9:29 pm 19 Jul 11

geoffrah said :

How about putting an admission charge on it ?
4 million visitors currently – put a token $5 admission charge …

$5 is not token! Institutions have tried many times to impose an entrance fee and they always reverse out of it. e.g. NGA. Taxpayers pay for the frigging institutions through their taxes already, thanks!

geoffrah 7:21 pm 19 Jul 11

How about putting an admission charge on it ?
4 million visitors currently – put a token $5 admission charge on – this could generate close on $20 million dollars a year (almost half the current annual operating budget of $47 million). If all of that additional revenue could be ploughed back into the Museum, then I’m sure we could get something more fitting for a National Museum, with more of the collection on display instead of being housed in a Mitchell warehouse.

creative_canberran 6:50 pm 19 Jul 11

I have fond memories of the Melbourne Museum. So too, the Immigration Museum in Melbourne and even the National Wool Museum in Geelong. The first is a very large and broad institution while the latter is relatively tiny and narrowly focused, yet they were all engaging and well laid out.

I think the National Museum tries to be all things to all people, ending up in a confusing and jumbled mix. The building is not practical nor stylish and is not conducive to a positive visitor experience. The foyer is a tremendous waste of space as is the courtyard while the actual galleries are full of cramped spaces of hidden dead spaces.

So in the end, they’re saying too much in too small a space with too little focus and too few blockbusters draw cards to bring back repeat visitors.

whitelaughter 6:39 pm 19 Jul 11

I-filed said :

I think it’s time the museum building was replaced. I

Everything you say is true, but this point in particular: the building is disintegrating. The roof leaks – not acceptable when you consider the priceless displays held here. The ceiling collapsed in the admin corridor – shelves have collapsed taking out priceless artifacts.

Oh, next time you go past, take a look at the heritage listed buildings further up the road – with gutters choked with bark/leaf material. They’ll all go up in flames next time there’s a fire near there.

whitelaughter 6:34 pm 19 Jul 11

The Museum *owns* some truly awesome stuff – sitting in storage in Mitchell. Want a wing displaying famous Australian cars? How about the original set for Playschool, complete with props? The staff at the Musuem are constantly pushing for creative displays to be released from storage, and it gets shot down by blockheads further up the chain.

Wily_Bear 6:30 pm 19 Jul 11

Usually one to avoid museums, I love that the National Museum is the story of a nation. The first time I went there, I was awed by the sheer audacity of the architecture,how our story is inscribed in braille on the walls, the ever present water in the background reflecting the nature of Australian life.

I would like to see more experiential type exhibits for kids, and more on the contemporary, urban Aboriginal experience. There are plenty of Aboriginal artifacts and art- but we have an art gallery for that. How about the social history of the ‘block’ in Redfern, or something like that? It ain’t pretty, but there it is

I-filed 6:28 pm 19 Jul 11

I think it’s time the museum building was replaced. It’s tacky, and based on the floorplan of the Holocaust Museum in Germany. Hence the weird atmosphere. (Yep, architects slipped that one past the committee). I’d like to see a museum that relied less on tricked-up digital effects, and spent less on marketing. Seriously, NMA’s exhibition marketing is OTT. Must we see endless TV ads for the Irish exhibition? I’d like to see the artifacts in the shop audited – I’ve seen “Indigenous” baskets in there that have clearly been manufactured in China. And I’d like to see a ban on exploitation of Latin American workers producing “Australian Aboriginal themed” objects for a pittance, under the misnomer of mutual engagement between Indigenous communities around the world. I’d like to say that the museum should encourage more engagement with its outdoors – but unfortunately it is too big for the peninsula and the surrounds are unattractive. Shame so many beautiful old trees were chopped down to make way for it …

dungfungus 6:22 pm 19 Jul 11

The National Museum of Australia is not my idea of what a museum shoul be like. The warm and fuzzy Encyclopedia Brittanica version sounds like politically correct bullshit to me.
The building is ugly and is all over the place like a dead squid. It is too overweighted with Aboriginal history and while this part of Australia’s story is important (to relentlessly remind us of our guilt) it is not easily understood by visitors from overseas. I don’t recall that there is actually anything there referring to the current trendy version of European settlement as “the invasion of Australia” but I am sure it will be imposed on us soon. There are much better museums in smaller places e.g., the one at Launceston in Northern Tasmania.
Lots of spelling mistakes on the display blurb cards as well. Apparently, “good spelling” is not in the job description.
On a positive side, the food at the cafe has improved but if you choose to eat al fresco, one has to compete with the raucous silver gulls who must come from out of town as they are working 7 days a week.

Jethro 4:15 pm 19 Jul 11

SSrb said :

Not having to pay for the one exhibit that looks remotely interesting.

That hits the nail on the head. The exhibits need to be interesting. I think of the QLD museum, which has dinosaurs along with the cast of a dino stampede, one of Kingsford Smith’s air planes, a WWI tank, a great collection of native animals and birds.

The only display I have found interesting at the N.M are the Thylacine and the Diprotodon. Most of the stuff on display is dull.

SSrb 3:26 pm 19 Jul 11

Not having to pay for the one exhibit that looks remotely interesting.

shadow boxer 3:25 pm 19 Jul 11

+1, I like the museum but would like some more convicts

colourful sydney rac 3:03 pm 19 Jul 11

I like the museum but would like some dinosaurs 🙂

shirty_bear 2:45 pm 19 Jul 11

My over-riding impression of the National Museum was how dark it was, especially upstairs. The gear on display may well have been worthy … who could tell?

braddonboy 11:43 am 19 Jul 11

According to Encyclopedia Britannica a museum is an institution ‘…dedicated to preserving and interpreting the primary tangible evidence of humankind and the environment.’ This is what the National Museum does. Through its displays of historical objects, it tells a story of everyday life in this country through the eyes, mostly, of the common people – black and white. What more could you ask for?

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