New WAM Boola Bardip open 21 Nov explores WA
Boola Bardip WA Museum.
Lee Tate, Celebrating the people’s museum, Have a Go News, 6 November 2020
Have a Go News’ Lee Tate was escorted by WA Museum CEO Alec Coles on a guided tour of the renovated space as we herald the much-anticipated opening of the museum on 21 November.
Four metres high and 16 metres long, the long-necked sauropod wandering across our landscape would have weighed 13 tonnes, the largest land animal that ever lived.
Suspended from the ceiling is an old museum favourite, the skeleton of Otto the blue whale, washed ashore in the late 1890s near the mouth of the Vasse River. Blue whales, still trekking WA’s coast, are the world’s biggest-ever animals.
Most frightening is the constructed head of a megalodon shark, the biggest-ever shark, up to 20 metres long, weighing 70 tonnes, thankfully becoming extinct about 3.5 million years ago.
The head is modelled from a giant tooth, 10 million years old, found near Exmouth. The tooth is displayed alongside the enormous head.
The Gogo fish, WA’s fossil emblem and interpretations of other extinct marine reptiles are displayed.
Aboriginal stories are woven throughout and there is a dedicated gallery of Indigenous materials and experiences.
The Boola Bardip name recognises that the museum sits on Whadjuk Noongar land and honours the cultural heritage of Australia’s First Peoples.
The name Boola Bardip was chosen in consultation with the WA Museum Aboriginal Advisory Committee and the museum’s Whadjuk Content Working Group. It was translated and approved by the Noongar Boodjar Aboriginal Language Centre.
A wonderful, rusting ute brought down from the north-west carries artwork relating to land title and other Aboriginal messages.
Touch-screens provide insight on displays and information can be downloaded to visitors’ phones. Teachers can book student tours or, for a fee, engage museum facilitators.
The museum will be free for at least 18 months but will be busy after its 21 November opening with 50,000 invited public guests, chosen by ballot, and nine-day opening celebrations. COVID-19 restrictions of course still apply.
As well as permanent displays, a 1,000m2 space is set aside for visiting exhibitions.
The building is a triumph for international architect consortium Hassell + OMA and builders Multiplex.
Arts Minister David Templeman said: “Boola Bardip is a truly extraordinary experience for Western Australians of all ages.
“You won’t get through everything in two hours, in fact you’ll need more than a day. But you’ll get a taste of what’s on offer and you can plan your return visit to explore at your leisure.”