Leading Museums, Museum Leaders

AM expansion’s wayfinding success –

Photography by Brett Boardman.

Anthea Belessis, Wayfinding specialists, Entro, signpost success for new-look Australian Museum, Archinect, 3 March 2021

Navigating a visit to Sydney’s recently redeveloped Australian Museum — featuring 3,000sqm of new public space designed by COX Architecture and Neeson Murcutt + Neille — is a seamless experience thanks to the artistry and intellect of wayfinding specialists, Entro.

Entro Principal Jan Ashdown describes her team’s approach as in sync with museum patrons. “In a museum space, visitors like to meander and to discover,” Jan explains. “Therefore, our wayfinding design is intuitive — encouraging people to enter and exit various gallery spaces at their own pace.

“Our intention is not to rush people from point A to point B,” Jan says. “Instead, we lead them through with little breadcrumbs that allows patrons to choose their own path and shape their own journey through the space.” This strategy benefits museum operators too — freeing up resources that otherwise would be tied up with directing patrons to gallery spaces and exhibitions.

Collaborating with architects

Jan and her team worked closely with Rachel Neeson, Director at Neeson Murcutt + Neille, whose design for the Museum’s Crystal Hall was awarded a 2016 Public Architecture Award. “We were mindful of sharing our concepts with Rachel at every juncture — after all, it was imperative that our wayfinding designs aligned with her overall vision.”

The pair developed such a strong connection that when Rachel sought to repurpose bronze balustrades from an original staircase in the Museum’s Parkes Famer Wing, it was Jan she turned to reimagine them. The result? Entro worked with the signage manufacturer’s in-house foundry team to recycle the bronze into elegant typography that signpost each floor of the Museum.

“It was a joy to discover Entro’s enthusiasm for this project matched our own,” Rachel says. “Effective wayfinding really complements architecture and, with this project, Jan gives us a masterclass in realising the positive impact of that marriage of disciplines.”

Wayfinding elements and inspiration

Signage and visitor maps were all among Entro’s remit. It was paramount to the Museum that the site’s new wayfinding prioritise accessibility and acknowledge First Nations peoples.

Entro collaborated with the Museum’s First Nations team to create an aesthetic that reflected the land and waterways on which the Museum stands. The team drew inspiration from natural landscapes, such as mountains, trees, and rivers. Scarred trees in particular, trees that provide wood or bark for the creation of
cultural objects, were an influence as they have played a part in sharing knowledge and living in balance for millennia on the lands now known as Australia.

Australian Museum Director and CEO Kim McKay AO said Entro has made a lasting contribution to the Australian Museum.

“The Australian Museum’s elegant new wayfinding not only helps visitors navigate the Museum’s old and new spaces, but it also incorporates native Australian materials that complement the Museum’s heritage architectural features.

Aside from seeing the gorgeous end result, my favorite part of working with Entro was mapping out the visitor journey and determining the best signage program to create a seamless experience for all visitors when enjoying the transformed Australian Museum.”

 

Council of Australasian Museum Directors, c/o Ms Daryl Karp, Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House PO Box 3934 Manuka, Australian Capital Territory 2603 Australia, © CAMD 2021
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