We’ve already put it on the record that WA Museum Boola Bardip is one of our city’s cultural jewels, and having just celebrated their first birthday back in November, we’ve headed back to the landmark to rediscover all it has to offer. Whether you visited back when it first reopened or you’re yet to check it out, we reckon there’s plenty of reasons for a visit, like:
There’s Heaps For The Kids To Discover
While the museum has plenty on offer for grown ups, there’s an almost endless amount for little ones to discover. Spot furry and feathered creatures up above, or crawl through kid-sized displays with doors to open and peep-holes to peer through. Throughout the museum, just about every display has an interactive element!
Image: WA Museum Boola Bardip
Connect With Country And Culture
Boola Bardip means ‘many stories’, and an integral part of WA’s story is the First Nations people and culture. The stories of WA’s Aboriginal communities are woven throughout the entire museum – not just in the permanent exhibition Ngalang Koort Boodja Wirn (Our heart, Country, spirit), but in every aspect of our culture, history and environment. Every Saturday morning at 11am, you can also experience Nyoongar culture with Nyumbi: a free event that includes a smoking ceremony and celebration dance performed by a different Nyoongar performance group each week.
Heritage And History
Boola Bardip is steeped in history and at the centre of the museum is the Old Perth Gaol, originally constructed in 1855-56.. As you enter, you can spot what is one of Western Australia’s oldest grapevines in the City RoomAs you journey through the museum’s spaces, you can spot where unique heritage features peek through – look through a glass section of flooring to see where an historic well that once provided water to the Gaol and surrounding buildings , or find the brickwork that remains from an uncompleted extension to the Hackett Hall reading room.
Image: Michael Haluwana
As well as architecturally, the permanent exhibitions share stories of Western Australia – whether it’s celebrating the creativity of West Australian music, fashion, and innovation, or even how humans have affected the landscape throughout time.
All That Glitters Might Really Be Gold
The WA Museum originated in 1891 as a geological museum, so if anyone’s going to make rocks cool – it’s these guys! From giant hunks of quartz with veins of gold (which inspired the architectural design), to huge iron meteorites, glittering wulfenite or amazingly alien-looking dravite, it’s a unique look at some of the spectacular and remarkable materials you can find buried in WA. Our favourite bit? The absolutely jaw-dropping display of glow in the dark minerals!
Creatures, Great And Small
Of course, WA’s unique and diverse wildlife is an integral part of the state – from the ancient dinosaurs that left their footprints in our north west or a 380 million years old, the Gogo fish fossil (Western Australia’s official fossil emblem!), to how invasive species are now managed. Plus, you can’t miss the three-metre model of a giant Megaladon shark’s head or the spectacular Otto: a 24 metre blue whale that washed up near the mouth of the Vasse River in 1897 and whose skeleton is now dramatically suspended over the historic Hackett Hall.
Image: Jarrad Seng
Immersive Art Abounds
A lot of museums can be pretty stuffy and formal, with rows of old timey-things under glass – but not Boola Bardip! The museum’s displays are all mesmerisingly immersive. Art is also used to highlight WA’s amazing landscape, as well as our rich and sometimes troubled history. We recommend checking out the museum in the afternoon and then heading outside at sunset, when the Old Gaol comes alive each evening with Illuminate: a stunning multisensory projection and soundscape series.. Inspired by the museum’s collections and Western Australia’s natural beauty – the inaugural artwork Timescapes is a kaleidoscope of colours inspired by the six Nyoongar seasons.
Image: Miles Noel
As well as the impressive permanent exhibitions, the museum is host to some enthralling special events and paid exhibitions – which are also often immersive. Until March 13, you can catch the magic Beyond the Milky Way in a 360° virtual reality experience narrated by physicist Professor Brian Cox, which will be followed from March 26 by Virtual Realms: an immersive video game inspired installation from some of the world’s most acclaimed game designers and co-curated by Tetsuya Mizuguchi. Later in the year, travel to a land before time with Dinosaurs of Patagonia, which features full-scale casts of dinosaurs, fossils and plenty of interactive fun. In December, you’ll be able to tumble through the looking glass with an immersive, magical Alice in Wonderland exhibition via Melbourne’s ACMI.
Plan your next visit to WA Museum Boola Bardip HERE.
Header Image: Miles Noel / WA Museum Boola Bardip