Thursday, January 20, 2011

What goes around, comes around

At the beginning of January, I spent several days in Canberra visiting museums, galleries and heritage places with my sister who hasn't been there for decades.

The visit reminded me how much work we have done for various Canberra institutions over the years. Among many other places, we enjoyed Reconciliation Place which extends across the landscaped area between the Library and the Portrait Gallery. I recall that we surveyed visitors in connection with the renovation of the Arts and Humanities Campus which is the open space between Questacon and the Library. Visitors wanted some practical elements incorporated into this area, especially more shade and a sheltered picnic/BBQ facility. Families and school groups put particular emphasis on this.

This image shows how the designers incorporated the sheltered picnic area into the formal setting. I think it works quite well.

Picnic pavillion in Humanities and Science Campus

We see in today's Sydney Morning Herald, that the ANU will partner with the Smithsonian to operate a national museum of astronomy and space science on Mt Stromlo, outside Canberra.

The vice-chancellor of the ANU, Ian Chubb, said the partnership would ''create something wonderful for Australia. A museum on Mount Stromlo, which is an active hub of leading-edge international astronomy and space research, will ensure we inspire future generations of young Australians to look to the skies."

The ANU and the Smithsonian are partners in the billion-dollar Giant Magellan Telescope, which will be more than 100 times more powerful than the Hubble Space Telescope and allow researchers to study the whole history of the universe and other Earth-like planets.

An astronomy and space science museum on Mt Stromlo makes sense and I think it will be an attractive addition to the cultural institutions in Canberra, especially with the partnership with the Smithsonian.

We have seen a number of proposals for museums in Canberra that lacked this logic and did not get off the ground, so to speak.

We look forward to the ongoing enrichment of Canberra's cultural institutions over the coming years.

Posted by Gillian Savage

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