Sydney is still thrashing around with the historic Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences, known as the Powerhouse Museum, while down south they are next month opening the new state-of-the-art Science Gallery Melbourne. Since 2017, Science Gallery Melbourne has created exhibitions and programs in temporary and pop-up sites around the city. Now a purpose-built gallery on the corner of Grattan and Swanston Streets will be a gateway to the University of Melbourne’s new Melbourne Connect innovation precinct. It will be a major new attraction delivering ‘immersive, interactive exhibitions and events focused on the collision of art and science’.
William Smart of Smart Design Studio has designed a fit-out of 3,500sqm of exhibition space, a theatre and workshops, and a STEM Centre of Excellence; a unique learning place for secondary students. This is a partnership between the Victorian government and the University of Melbourne. Vice-chancellor Duncan Maskell says: ‘The success of the Science Gallery model is measured by the rich, engaging learning environment that it offers to young people’.
The Sydney Powerhouse museum has, in part, a different role from the Science Gallery but the comparison in approach is instructive. The Science Gallery is being fostered by the university not the government, it is clear in its intent and it is not driven by the wish to hold a marginal seat.
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