Project Description

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The Auckland War Memorial Museum, New Zealand


Project Commenced: January 2017
Project Completed: December 2020

Thylacine’s role

  • design management
  • interpretive design
  • graphic design
  • media design
  • coordination with base build architects and services consultants

The Gallery Renewal Programme heralds the start of an exciting phase of the Auckland Museum, building upon the strategic implementation of its 20-year Future museum vision through the delivery of world-class galleries.

The AWMM Gallery Renewal Programme invigorates the entire visitor experience at the Museum through significant and “impactful” change. The structure of the galleries and interpretive spaces are transformed through targeted narratives that are clearly articulated and interconnected through the 3D (and 2D) design, interpretation and content, thus forming a unique and enhanced visitor experience.

The renewed spaces and exhibitions deliver on the Museum’s brand promise, “Know Wonder. Mātau Mīharo”; creating a point of difference across other cultural institutions in NZ and the world. Informed by the spiritual and cultural resources of the Museum and its collections, the renewed galleries merge the digital and physical to provide a synchronized, experiential and entertaining approach to learning and visitor engagement with the Museum. This expands and develops the Museum’s reach and accessibility across the onsite experience, as well as connecting with visitors and communities beyond the Museum by sharing knowledge, engaging contribution and stimulating creativity.

In addition, the Gallery Renewal Programme provides address to issues regarding the Museum’s current visitor capacity and future visitation growth.

The central idea is framed by the notion of place while also moving across time. It enables us to honour our past, embrace our present and guide our future. Significant to the idea of place and time as an overarching device binding the Museum’s conceptual structure is the Heart of the Museum concept, which provides a set of linked horizontal and vertical experiences to orient and connect the visitor as they move through the exhibition spaces and stories housed within.

The Heart of the Museum begins on the ground floor in the South Atrium, the primary entrance used by Aucklanders. Connections between people and place-based histories are revealed via horizontal pathways throughout the south atrium and ground-floor West galleries: Tāmaki Herenga Waka Stories of Auckland.  The principles of He Korahi Māori (mana whenua – authority over land and water, manaakitanga – care for others, and kaitiakitanga – guardianship) are introduced and expressed through “language, voice, perspectives, taonga and design”, creating recognizable themes and interpretive approaches that flow through all of the exhibition spaces and narratives across the Museum.

High-density visible collections showcasing the diversity of content held by the Museum enable rich narratives to be explored are found in the “Connections” gallery. This is located next to “The Learning Base’, a host space that facilitate enquiry-based learning and object-based storytelling using a range of interpretative approaches and devices. On each level, content and narratives are introduced through the lens of mana whenua, which facilitates a continuous relationship between the stories and voices as the visitor progresses through the galleries

Encyclopaedic objects support storytelling and open up the narrative flow across galleries on each floor. A range of voices and perspectives illuminate objects; and are future proofed – to develop over time to ensure relevance. Stories and content share in exciting and diverse ways that entertain, educate and inspire. Layers of interpretation provide rich contextual information using a full range of interpretative media.

Ultimately, the galleries deliver a coherent and substantial new visitor offer with appeal for current and future audiences’ onsite whilst extending connections offsite.

Project partners include AWMM and their stakeholders, FJMT Architects (AU), Jasmax Architects (NZ) and media designers Mental Media.