Identity exhibition eco-installation begins

This post comes to you from the EcoMuseum


An exhibition, Identity: yours mine ours will launch in March 2011 at Museum Victoria‘s Immigration Museum, and is re-imagining the benchmarks of environmental sustainability in the cultural sector.

After over 2 years of development, in November 2010 construction work finally began on our Identity exhibition, with the removal of the old occupier of the space – Station Pier: gateway to a new life. Station Pier had been in place since 2004 and had enjoyed immense popularity with visitors, especially those who arrived by ship in Melbourne at Station Pier.

One of the challenges to eco-exhibitions is to design and build for what is essentially a temporary interior building fixture. Inevitably this leads to excessive waste come the end of the exhibition. Station Pier was designed without the insights of the burgeoning eco-exhibition industry, so the challenge to the team was to dismantle the exhibition and create the least waste possible in doing so.

Pre-planning is key to this process, and the integration of processes into your normal project planning. The Identity designers Andrew and Gina embraced the philosophy of an eco-exhibition, and so it was agreed to use laminated glass from the bespoke Station Pier cases, in Identity. Currently, whilst the infrastructure for the new exhibition is being built, the glass is being stored safely until we need it. Once that happens, our glaziers will cut to size and re-fit into Identity.

The builders who won the contract quoted on the notion of our eco-principles, with requirements for reuse and recycling written into the Request for Quotation. Necessities such as de-nailing reusable timber and cutting salvageable pieces were allowed for, so no nasty financial consequences could pop up unexpectedly. Appropriate RFQ’s are a big part of the eco pre-planning process, and after creating a template it’s easy to accurately ask your contractors for the right thing and avoid any confusion as to what you need them to do.

Unfortunately, apart from the glass and some structural softwood timber, not much was able to be reused in terms of Station Pier’s built environment. Too much had been glued not screwed all those years ago. Most of the timber had to be destroyed just in liberating it from its structural supports.

However, one thing usually never able to be recycled or reused are exhibition graphics. Station Pier documents a rich history of migration around an iconic port in Melbourne – which still exists. Talks with the management at Station Pier indicate they are keen be the vehicle for the long-term reuse of the Station Pier graphic panels – of which there is at least 50kg. Hopefully the museum’s graphics will enjoy a long life providing information for Melbourne’s tourists.

Stay tuned for the build of Identity: yours mine ours. Meanwhile you can find out more about the exhibition development here.

the EcoMuseum, is a project of Carole Hammond, Exhibition Manager and museum professional: combining the complex ideologies of aesthetics, culture, objects, entertainment…and environment.

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