National Museum of Australia – Gandel Atrium Revitalisation

Transforming the Museum’s arrival interpretive experience to amplify the spirit, kudos and import of this esteemed institution

National Museum of Australia

The National Museum of Australia engaged Trigger to revitalise ‘The Gandel Atrium’ – the largest space in the building and the arrival point for the Museum – in a purpose-made building designed by Architects ARM. Our team worked closely with Curatorial, Exhibitions, Registration, Conservation, Digital, Functions, Corporate Development, Lighting and AV Departments to realise an ambitious scheme that transforms the experience of the space for the visitor.

Trigger developed a 2-tier interpretive display concept to interpret the Museum’s main collection areas. Two large objects – the Muttabuttasaurus and a 1955 FJ Holden with Propert ‘Trailaway’ caravan – anchor the space on elevated plinths, while smaller objects have been displayed inside showcases integrated to the curvilinear architectural columns of the building.

We created a compelling central interpretive focus to the space, designing a bespoke concentric circular support and lighting rig for Kamilaroi artist Reko Rennie’s sculpture ‘Untitled (Bogong Moth)’. All exhibition infrastructure has been designed to accommodate ongoing change of objects and stories.

The reception desk and cloak room were relocated to a new, more functional location. The form of any introduced elements were cylindrical and minimal to allow the surrounding curvilinear architecture to breathe and avoid creating visual conflict.

The main challenges of the space were to de-clutter and rationalise existing displays and to create a compelling arrival experience befitting an institution of this stature. The demands of the project included: creating a compelling sense of arrival, evocation of Museum themes and stories, solutions for a multi-use entry/exhibition/function space, increasing amenity for entry requirements and security, accentuating views to the landscape, using design to contribute to a constantly refreshed and evolving exhibition program, object display in a naturally lit space, enhancing and honouring complex geometric architectural building forms, and improving circulation, orientation and wayfinding.


We created modular concepts, thematic design and digital opportunities and identified ‘icon’ objects. Curatorial depth is enhanced through the communication of different narratives simultaneously and the incorporation of diverse exhibition display techniques, addressing different learning styles, across 2D and multi-media platforms.

Part of the project was to develop a donor wall system to recognise significant contributions.

Trigger designed a reconfigurable donor 'terrain' wall that incorporates a transparent braille element.