New museum concept on show

The new WA Museum project has taken visual shape for the first time.

The first conceptual illustration of the interior of the $428 million facility, complete with the famed blue whale skeleton hanging overhead, has been released with the results of a year-long project definition plan to confirm the scope, cost and delivery details before the tender phase.

New buildings with about 23,000sqm of functional space, almost four times the size of the existing complex, will be knitted into the museum's refurbished heritage facility in the Perth Cultural Centre.

The recent State Budget allocated $21 million in 2014-15 for the early stages of the project, which is due to be built by 2019 and open by 2020.

Museum director Alec Coles said expressions of interest would be sought later this year for a managing contractor to design and construct the museum.

The architect-construction teams would be shortlisted early next year and the winning consortium chosen after an interactive tender process by late 2015, Mr Coles said.

He said the released artist concept drawing was an indicative rather than literal rendition of the interior.

"You do need illustrative material," he said.

"We are out there talking about the museum all the time and looking for people to get behind the museum and get involved in it.

"It does give you some sense of where we are going but clearly it doesn't tell you exactly what the museum is going to look like.

"I hope it gives some sense of the excitement and drama that we are going to create there and of course it has got the whale in it."

The final design schematics would not be produced until 2016 when construction was due to start, he said.

The blue whale skeleton is among about 4.5 million specimens held at the museum's Welshpool research and storage centre being given a $17.5 million upgrade ahead of construction of the new city showcase.

The project definition plan highlights the quality of the visitor experience, good circulation and large, enlivened galleries and public spaces as key elements of the design.

A central outdoor space will link the heritage and new buildings, creating an orientation point and providing space where people can rest, meet and take part in events.

Core exhibition galleries will be supplemented by a temporary and touring exhibition gallery, cafe, retail and special function areas.

More public consultation results will feed into the brief for designers and builders.

The West Australian

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