A redevelopment project currently underway aims to make major improvements to the museum's exhibition spaces, collection storage and staff areas. These will help Museum of the Riverina to conserve the objects in our care, and tell our region's story in new ways to wider audiences.
Landscaping of the outdoor display area and the construction of specialist outdoor displays will make it easier for everyone to enjoy the museum's collection of agricultural machinery.
Many significant pieces of agricultural machinery will be protected from the elements for the first time.
New storage and work spaces will allow the museum to stabilise and conserve important collection items out of the weather.
Important items, such as the state-significant Cook’s Galley, will be relocated to a dedicated indoor exhibition space and made more accessible to the public.
A new office for the Wagga Wagga & District Historical Society will preserve the special relationship between Museum of the Riverina and its parent society.
The Museum of the Riverina Redevelopment Project should create a Museum precinct that is exciting and innovative, reflecting the surrounding landscape of Willans Hill, the Botanic Gardens and the broader Riverina region.
The Museum of the Riverina (MoR) is funded and operated by Wagga Wagga City Council. The Museum has two sites: the Botanic Gardens site, which holds our collection and displays semi-permanent local exhibitions; and the Historic Council Chambers, which hosts temporary and travelling exhibitions.
The Botanic Gardens site “Museum in the Gardens” is currently owned by the Wagga Wagga District Historical Society and Council has a 25 year lease expiring in 2024. The “Museum in the Gardens” is located adjacent to the Botanic Gardens. It is connected by a walkway under Lord Baden Powell Drive. The site is on a hillside. This presents some difficulties, but also opportunities for innovative design.
The outdoor areas contain a large part of the Museum’s agricultural collection and building collection. An assessment of these objects has been completed. Some items have been identified for deaccession. Others require specialist care.
The Museum in the Gardens is currently staffed by two full-time staff and seven part-time staff. In 2016 the Botanic Gardens Site received approximately 15,000 visitors and future plans seek to increase visitor numbers. The Botanic Gardens site includes collection storage and staff areas and these are currently at capacity and do not allow for future growth. The redevelopment will also see a shift in the focus of the Museum with a greater emphasis on the Museum in the Gardens site.
In 2017, MoR completed a Masterplan of the site which included an audit of current spaces and provided recommendations to allow future growth at the site. The Masterplan included an assessment of storage areas, a site survey and a safety and accessibility assessment. The Masterplan also made recommendations for better use of the outside spaces.
Concept Plans were completed in February 2018. The plans for the building and landscaping were guided by the recommendations contained within the Masterplan.
In May 2018, WWCC was successful in a grant application to the Regional Cultural Fund and progressed with Detailed Design for the building and landscaping. Sydney based Architects, Panovscott, were awarded the work following Council’s procurement process. Their design work was completed in August 2019.
This $8.6 million project is being funded by:
- Australian Government, Building Better Regions Fund - $4.3 million ($1.7 million for Museum of the Riverina + $2.6 million for the upgrade of Lord Baden Powell Drive)
- NSW Government, Create NSW, Regional Cultural Fund - $3.18 million + Restart NSW, Infrastructure NSW - $739,466
- Wagga Wagga City Council - $400, 000.
- Exciting new exhibitions for all ages exploring the people and environment of Wagga Wagga and surrounds.
- New pathways indoor and out will give better accessibility to wheelchairs and prams exploring the museum.
- Twice as much storage will mean the museum's 25,000 object collection will be better cared for in climate-controlled conditions
- A specialist classroom will facilitate workshops, meetings and school programs.
We're bursting at the seams
Museums are like icebergs - most of the work happens below the surface, out of sight to the public. At any one time you can see hundreds of fascinating objects on display, but thousands more are being carefully stored in our storage areas and sheds. We actively care for about 20,000 objects, but we have run out of space to do it properly.
One third of our collection objects are textiles - which are especially tricky to preserve. The upgrade will double the amount of climate-controlled storage space we have, and will include a walk in freezer - essential for killing off bugs and weevils that might take up residence in old fabrics!
Museums should be for everybody
Some of the most interesting and significant items in our collection are large agricultural machines - ploughs, tractors, and plenty more that you might not recognise. Presently, visitors need to traverse our steep, slippery, rocky outdoor display area to see them.
Terraced, accessible pathways will be installed to guide visitors of all abilities through our outdoor displays.
At the bottom of our site, a large storage shed will be constructed to help us protect some of the more fragile machines from the elements.This will also have space to allow restoration teams to stabilise and protect our region's agricultural heritage.
To pass on stories to future generations
Part of our job as a regional museum is to support the amazing work done by historical societies and volunteer-run museums right across the Riverina region. We also play an important role in providing educational experiences to visiting school students.
A dedicate workshop/classroom will help us to share history skills and stories with volunteers and students from near and far, to ensure that our whole community benefits from the work we do.
For further information about this project please contact our project team on 1300 292 442 or firstname.lastname@example.org