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The Australian Museum is closing for a year for a major facelift

Ben Neutze

Sydney is home to the oldest museum in the country, but in less than a month the 190-year-old Australian Museum will be closing its doors for a year for a major $57.5 million renovation. If you had plans on taking a loved little one on an educational day trip next school holidays, you're going to have to go back to the drawing board.

The NSW Government today announced that it's thrown $50.5 million behind the renovation (the museum will raise the remaining $7 million), and has arranged for Ultimo's Powerhouse Museum to host the Australian Museum's annual Australian Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year exhibition this August. The Powerhouse – which is getting a brand new home in Parramatta – is staying fully open until mid-2020, when it closes its heritage power station building. Twelve months later, it will close the Wran building, its second space at the Ultimo site.

But the Australian Museum is staying put in its original location opposite Hyde Park, and is opening up more spaces to host major exhibitions. The main feature of the $57.5 million renovation is a new 1,500m2 touring exhibition space, which will be built across two levels currently used for storage by the museum. And of course there'll be new bathrooms, increased accessibility, more escalators allowing better flow between all the museum's spaces, and a new museum shop.

It's all designed by Cox Architects and Neeson Murcutt, who designed the fancy new entrance on the William Street side of the museum.

The exhibition space will be ready for the Australian Museum to host the blockbuster exhibition Tutankhamun: Treasures of the Golden Pharaoh in early 2021. The museum says it's the most significant collection of artefacts to ever leave Egypt, with more than 150 items from Tutankhamun's tomb. Sydney will be the fifth city in the world to host the exhibition, and it'll run here for six months.

Watch the video below to see what the Australian Museum has planned.

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