Behind-the-scenes takes front stage at the Science Gallery Melbourne, thanks to Smart Design Studio’s clever display of exhibition setups.
August 29th, 2021
Smart Design Studio (SDS) has kitted out the internal galleries of the 3600-square-metres space for Science Gallery Melbourne, the first and only Australian node in the Science Gallery Network.
The unique design is based on the studio’s research that showed that exhibitions under construction can be just as exciting for visitors as the completed exhibition itself.
“Our objective was to create a gallery interior that was lively no matter what time of day or mode the exhibitions were in,” says Smart Design Studio.
Off the back of the research, SDS conceived a space that uniquely gives visitors the opportunity to see “behind-the-scenes” activities from the split level main hall that allows visitor viewing over the foyer and exhibitions, even as they’re being set up. Large windows afford views to people on the street, showcasing completed exhibitions and insights into exhibition setups.
“The SDS design is unique in the world of museum architecture because it works against the perception of a ‘partly closed’ museum during show changeover which can have negative impacts on the vis,” says SDS.
Designed to support the gallery’s rapidly changing exhibitions and to always be open and accessible to the community, the gallery aims to spark curiosity in young adults by providing a space that is simultaneously playful and contemplative to engage deeply or simply to hang out.
“Science Gallery Melbourne provides a contemporary, playful and welcoming space for young people to explore issues, ideas and the great challenges of our time. As a new home for STEM engagement, we aim to show that anything is possible when science and art come together,” says University of Melbourne’s museums and collections director, Rose Hiscock.
Facilitating this display of ideas, Smart Design Studio’s William Smart designed Science Gallery Melbourne—which comprises an exhibition space, learning centre, theatre, workshops and social spaces—specifically to engage 15 to 25 year olds and inspired by the collision of art and science.
The design is purposefully flexible to allow for the reconfiguration of spaces and installations for different exhibitions and events. Exhibition lighting and audio-visual elements are modular and moveable. Hanging screens act as walls and room dividers in order to negate the use of disposable plasterboard and wall framing associated with exhibition changes. Galvanized steel flooring is magnetic, meaning different floor finishes can be laid down and magnetically attached to change the gallery’s appearance.
“SDS worked with the Science Gallery Melbourne team to carefully consider how each modular element would be used and re-used to create a very flexible system,” says SDS. “The modular panel design by SDS is an important step in meeting Science Gallery Melbourne’s needs to minimise waste and have an agile exhibitions system.”
The gallery will be a critical part of Melbourne Connect, a purpose built innovation precinct in the heart of Carlton, powered by The University of Melbourne. Along with the gallery, the precinct will bring together researchers, government, industry, SME’s, startups, university students and artists.
Smart Design Studio
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