Orange Regional Museum

Design Feature
Project Type
Local Government Initiative
Location
Regional
State
NSW

Officially opening in November 2016, the Orange Regional Museum (the Museum) forms part of the Cultural and Civic Precinct in Orange, New South Wales. The precinct is centrally located and includes the Orange City Library, the Orange Regional Gallery and Art Gallery (ORLAG), the Orange Civic Theatre, Council Chambers and offices and the Visitor Information Centre.

The Museum development has established a new civic square, including a public amphitheatre that allows access to an innovative sloping grassed roof, returning public open space to the community. The development invites residents and visitors to peruse the precinct, utilise the services and generally enjoy their experience in Orange. The Museum was awarded Sulman Medal for Public Architecture and the NSW Premier’s Prize at the 2017 NSW Architecture Awards.

Bringing the fun into design

The addition of the new cultural facility and services enhance the liveability of Orange, adding to its reputation as one of the most attractive cities in regional NSW. Access to cultural and learning centres are key deciders for families considering settling in a particular city and Orange’s vibrant cultural offering gives the City a competitive advantage over similar regional cities.

The development of a regional museum had its beginnings in 2002 when a museum program was established. In the following years, numerous rounds of community consultation were conducted to gauge support and interest in the proposal. A museum in the cultural precinct was a long-held aspiration by community members as the central location of the site, surrounded by public open spaces, was seen as the ideal place to celebrate the history and future of Orange and surrounding region. Highlighting the efforts of well-intended and well-managed consultation, there were no formal objections or complaints lodged by the community or stakeholders throughout the planning process.

Credit: Tom Ferguson Photography
The internal spaces are flexible, and can be used for many events in the day or night. Credit: Tom Ferguson Photography

Community engagement undertaken in 2010 – 2013 though focus groups and surveys outlined the community’s aspirations for a museum. A total of 621 people participated in the community survey or as a member of a focus group. Respondents strongly supported the development of a regional museum in Orange, 81.5% described the initiative as either very important or important. Tourism, education and economic development were identified as the key attributes of the museum that would benefit the region.

Following a competitive tender process, Crone was engaged to develop a new building in the existing cultural precinct. The Crone team designed a building that placed the integrated museum and visitor centre on the south court of the existing cultural precinct. A concept was developed to strengthen connections to the existing infrastructure and to create a forecourt and a cafe with frontage to busy Byng Street. Construction then commenced in 2015.

The new addition to the site houses the visitors centre, drawing tourists to the area and encouraging them to explore. Credit: Tom Ferguson Photography
The new addition to the site houses the visitors centre, drawing tourists to the area and encouraging them to explore. Credit: Tom Ferguson Photography

The building is visible through Robertson Park and has multiple facades. The six-metre high grassed roof is a defining feature of the design, rising from the existing lawn, providing a public green space and new vantage point to the adjacent Robertson Park and across Orange City. Intended as a flexible space, the lawn can be used for a variety of functions including outdoor exhibitions or simply an area for visitors to relax. For those unable to walk up the ramp or the stairs, there is a lift available to access the lawn.

The building provides pollutant-free indoor environments, lighting and thermal comfort and opportunities for natural ventilation through operable façade elements. Credit: Tom Ferguson Photography
The building provides pollutant-free indoor environments, lighting and thermal comfort and opportunities for natural ventilation through operable façade elements. Credit: Tom Ferguson Photography

The form took shape after taking into consideration various site constraints including natural access paths and storm water channel, as well as the height of the neighbouring Sulman Award winning Library/Gallery. The design needed to be respectful of the existing architecture and enhance the already well-loved precinct.

The Museum development is welcoming, innovative, functional and economical to run. It is also sustainable, flexible and responsive to the precinct context and audiences and, most importantly, the Museum and precinct are visitor friendly. The precinct is now a true destination an encouraging visitors to walk around the gallery which adds to the strong sense of place for the existing site. The Orange Regional Museum will act as the heart of storytelling, discovery and knowledge across Orange, Blayney and Cabonne Council areas. It will support the community museums and collections of Central NSW through collaborative projects and training in interpretation, documentation, conservation, and exhibition development.

Project Team

  • Crone Architects
  • Orange & District Historical Society
  • Orange Regional Museum Advancement Association
  • Orange Regional Museum Fund Ltd were advocates for the Museum and cultural precinct and supported the project.
  • Museum adviser
  • Council staff
  • Freeman Ryan developed the concept of the museum internal spaces
  • Zauner Construction

Project Cost

  • $ 9 million including Orange Regional Museum Fund Ltd donation of approximately $250,000

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