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Exterior view of the Chau Chak Wing Museum, surrounded by grass and trees.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

Common questions about the Chau Chak Wing Museum
Why we're building it, where it's being built, how it will foster creativity, visual understanding and divergent thinking, and more.

The new Chau Chak Wing Museum, at approximately 8000 square metres (gross floor area), will consolidate the now closed Macleay and Nicholson museums, the University Art Gallery and associated cultural and scientific collections – transforming the use of the museum to a primary focus of object-based learning. In this way, it will play a key role in support of the University's strategic directional focus on education and research.

The new building on the Fisher Tennis Courts site consolidates the existing collections while supporting cultural and scientific enquiry, and providing a new benchmark for integrated cross-disciplinary teaching and learning through exhibitions and museum collections alongside study rooms. The Chau Chak Wing Museum will become the focal point for University-wide cultural outreach.

Consolidating these three exhibition spaces will provide efficiency in operational management, while consolidating the collections into the Collections Education Research and Conservation Facility (from six places into one or two) will improve security. Ensuring that the artefacts/objects and art will be now kept within purpose-built and strictly environmentally-controlled areas will ensure they are maintained for future generations to enjoy.

  • Gallery, exhibition and display spaces including a large temporary exhibition gallery space
  • Research and study areas (object studios) for University and school students to engage in object-based study and research
  • 130-seat flat floor auditorium
  • Museum shop and bag storage areas
  • Café opening out to external terrace
  • Staff offices, facilities and a boardroom
  • Collections Education Research and Conservation Facility space including conservation lab, quarantine room, collections storage, labs and workshop areas
  • Loading dock
  • Plant rooms

The University’s museum collections are broadly diverse and unique. A selection from this range will be exhibited, as well as a dynamic program of exciting temporary exhibitions.

Construction of the new museum will include research and study areas (object studios) to be used by both University and school students to engage in object-based study and research of the museum’s collections. The exhibitions will also provide a direct opportunity for on-site teaching and self-directed learning. Further, it is anticipated that the new museum will contribute directly to equivalent full-time student load growth of the Master of Art Curating and the Master of Museums and Heritage Studies.

120,000 visitors per annum, growing to plateau at 375,000 per annum over the next 30 years. A starting average of approximately 330 visitors per day rising to an average of approximately 1030 visitors per day.

School students will start at 12,000 per annum, growing to 20,000 over the next 20 years.

The museum will be approximately 8000 square metres (gross floor area) over some five levels. Three of these levels will be underground at the western end with two opening out to daylight at the eastern end. The lowest level is completely underground.

This will include around 2000 square metres of exhibition space which is approximately three times the space currently provided.

Most museums typically display up to approximately five percent of their collections. Across the three current spaces, our previous museums and gallery displayed less than one percent of our extensive collections. This new building will provide space to display up to three percent of our collections.

18 November 2020.

Monday to Friday, 10am - 5pm
Late night Thursday, 'til 9pm 
Weekends, 12pm - 4pm

The Nicholson Museum is now closed in preparation for the opening of the Chau Chak Wing Museum in 2020.

The Chau Chak Wing Museum will be built on the existing Fisher Tennis Courts at the entrance to the University, at the corner of University Avenue and Parramatta Road (opposite the Fisher Library and Quadrangle). This site has been proposed to contain a new building on four separate University masterplans since 1915.

In this proposed location, the University will be provided with an iconic cultural asset at the forefront of comparable cultural venues in New South Wales and Australia.

The site is among the most prominent at the University – opposite the Fisher Library, fronting Parramatta Road, Victoria Park and the Quadrangle, making it an ideal site for a public museum.

The location had a significant meaning for the Gadigal people of the Eora nation for thousands of years as a gathering place and hunting ground, and this long history will be acknowledged and explored within the museum.

After review of the extremely limited sites available on Camperdown/Darlington Campus, this site was selected as the best option due to its proximity to the Quadrangle and the 'Cultural Precinct' proposed under the Campus Improvement Program 2014-20. This site has been proposed to contain a new building on four separate University masterplans since 1915.

The University Art Gallery and Macleay Museum closed in November 2016 to enable staff to safely pack the artefacts and art pieces, and prepare exhibitions and programs for the new museum. The Nicholson Museum closed in March 2020 to prepare for the opening of the Chau Chak Wing Museum.

After extensive due diligence investigations, it was discovered that the existing Macleay and Edgeworth-David buildings were not fit for purpose as a modern museum to meet stringent internal environmental controls. Further assessment of repurposing both the Macleay and Edgeworth-David buildings showed that the extent of works was far more extensive and cost prohibitive than previously envisaged, and similar to constructing a new building within the old heritage façade.

At the moment, these two buildings will continue with their current function. Some of the occupants are expected to relocate into the new LEES1 Building. They will be repurposed for other University uses in the future.

The University will decide on appropriate reuse of the Nicholson Museum space which, before its Nicholson phase, was part of the original Fisher Library.

The Chau Chak Wing Museum is not providing any new carparks for the general public or its staff. While we will be repurposing some existing carpark spaces for new disabled car parking near the entry, there will be no new carpark spaces provided with this development.

The roadway directly in front of the museum shall be designated for pick-up and set-down only. The University strongly supports and relies upon the use of public transport by students, staff and the general public for environmentally friendly and sustainability reasons and the triple-bottom-line benefits that result from this stance. This project clearly demonstrates that support and reliance.

The University currently has some 24 tennis courts across the Camperdown/Darlington Campus. This project proposes to reduce that number to 21. The Fisher tennis courts were not highly used and, as such, repurposing of this site will have minimal impact.

The Chau Chak Wing Museum will be aiming for a University sustainability standard of 'gold', the second highest rating available. Some of the design initiatives included in the project are the following:

  • implementation of a solar hot-water system for the building
  • inclusion of highest energy rated appliances available under the Australian Government's energy rating scheme
  • maximisation of the roof design with northeast-northwest orientation for the integration of solar panels to 75% of the roof
  • improving the building energy performance by overall 20% by completion of an energy model using BCA Section J energy modelling guidelines
  • internal and external lighting systems established in accordance with the lighting design standard, including energy-efficient fittings, zoning and controls
  • incorporation of infrastructure, eg thermal storage/pre-cooling technologies and load shedding controls to the BMS to reduce peak HVAC energy demand by 5%
  • providing water-efficient sanitary fixtures, tapware and associated equipment in accordance with the University's hydraulic design standard
  • water harvesting rainwater reuse for the building including landscape irrigation
  • reducing the amount of volatile organic compounds found in adhesives and sealants of building materials
  • ensuring that all engineered wood products used in exposed or concealed applications have either low formaldehyde emissions or contain no formaldehyde
  • providing furnishings with high-recycled content, end-of-life local recyclability, product stewardship agreements and warranties greater or equal to 10 years
  • ensuring that recycled steel is at least 60% of all steel, by mass, has a post-consumer recycled content greater than 50% or is reused
  • implementation of recycled concrete ensures at least 25% of all fine aggregate (sand) and coarse aggregate inputs in the concrete are manufactured sand or other alternatives
  • minimisation of the use of PVC by replacing 30% of PVC products, eg, pipes, conduits, sheathing and backing of carpet tiles with alternative environmentally preferable alternatives
  • future-proofing all infrastructure and plant rooms to allow for readily accessible connection points to future precinct-based energy and water distribution systems (eg, hot/chilled water loops, recycled water)
  • provision of bicycle parking racks for staff and students including end-of-trip facilities.

The Lone Pine has been carefully removed and transplanted to a specialist nursery on the north coast for safekeeping during the construction period. It will be relocated back to the site in 2020 when the building is completed.

The Chau Chak Wing Museum is a continuation of the legacy of the initiators and benefactors of the University's original museums including Sir Charles Nicholson, the Macleay family and JW Power. This legacy will continue to be recognised through the continuation of their current names such as the Nicholson Collection and Macleay Collections and through named exhibition galleries in the new museum.

Yes, we will be reusing some of the original timber cases from the Macleay Museum and some of the existing glass cases from the Nicholson Museum. These original cases were purpose-built for the presentation and display of specimens and artefacts. To retain some of these unique cases and present some elements of the collection in the way they were originally is to maintain some of the historically important heritage of both museums, which will be of continuing interest to current and future generations.

The consolidation of the museum into one location is a Campus Improvement Plan (CIP) initiative. However, in this location the Chau Chak Wing Museum development sits outside of previously approved CIP envelopes and, as such, is subject to a separate planning approval process. It still lies generally within the context of, and remains an integral part of, creating a 'Cultural Precinct' within this geographical quadrant of the Camperdown Campus.

Featured image (top of the page): artist's impression of the new Chau Chak Wing museum (Johnson Pilton Walker)