Sovereign Hill Master Plan


Project Commenced: April 2020
Project Completed: November 2020

Thylacine’s role

  • site assessment and content review
  • interpretive design & planning
  • concept development
  • report-writing
  • stakeholder engagement
  • concept presentation

Project overview

This Master Plan project was delivered for one of Australia’s most iconic living museums. It is designed to build on Sovereign Hill Museum Association’s (SHMA) key strengths, while planning for the organisation’s continued success over the coming 20 years.

Working with a multi-disciplinary team of architects, tourism professionals, urban planners, heritage specialists and economic advisers, we undertook a detailed review of the existing interpretive and corporate assets. Following this was a three-month process of stakeholder engagement and collaborative planning and development. Drafts were delivered in several iterations, facilitating an active cycle of feedback and response, before the final delivery of the Master Plan.

Key deliverables

Tasked with the interpretive elements of a wide-ranging Master Plan, Thylacine delivered a flexible and future-facing interpretive framework based on the idea of “practice”. This notion is fundamental to the existing work of Sovereign Hill and presents a solid foundation for development moving forward.

The practice framework also presented a unifying structure through which to integrate the three separate campuses of the Sovereign Hill Museums Association – the Gold Museum, Outdoor Museum, and Narmbool, a working farm that also offers environmental education programs. Under the Master Plan, these three sites will be much better connected, with an expanded visitor offering and improved visitor experience.

As strong advocates for the importance of collections and material culture, we recommended the implementation of collection nodes throughout the Outdoor Museum to highlight key collection objects and demonstrate their role in the scholarship and research that underpins the living museum.


One of the unique challenges for this project was working during the shutdowns associated with the Covid19 pandemic. Restrictions on accessing the site meant that effective engagement with key stakeholders was critical, highlighting the importance of good communication to successful project outcomes.

Further to this was the complexity of working with a large project team across multiple state borders. This was overcome by weekly Zoom team meetings, ensuring all members were updated and across the project as it evolved.

Project partners

Client Sovereign Hill Museums Association and their internal and external stakeholders. The project team was led by Grimshaw Architects and included TRC Tourism; Aspect Studios; Urbis; Slattery; Australian Cultural Heritage Management (ACHM) and Value Advisory Partners, Finding Infinity and Greenshoots Consulting.