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Sound Advice light museum for the future


The National Museum of Australia opened in 2001 as a part of the celebrations of Australia's centenary as a federated nation. Just as museums around the world are rethinking their role and purpose in society as they face the new millennium, the National Museum of Australia has also been defining its role as a museum for the 21st century.

The National Museum of Australia has been developed as a forum - a place for sharing stories and exchanging information about different cultures, as well as displaying rare and unique objects and interpreting the complex origins of the Australian continent and the nation.

As a new museum of the new millennium, the National Museum of Australia cannot simply be the same old museum concept with new technology. Both educational and entertaining, the Museum employs a fresh and exciting approach to Australian history, culture and the environment - presenting its varied subject matter through the blending of exhibits, technology, media, live performances and hands-on activities within dynamic architectural and landscape spaces.


The National Museum of Australia is located on Acton Peninsula adjoining the Australian National University campus. Acton Peninsula is a spectacular and prominent location within the central national capital area. From its setting on the foreshore of Lake Burley Griffin, the Museum has expansive views to the city, the parliamentary zone and farther afield to the National Botanic Gardens and the Brindabella Ranges.

One of the most spectacular views of the Museum is from the Commonwealth Bridge and at night the building is lit up in a sea of ever-changing colour.

Four CityColor 2500 color change floods wash the external wall facing the Commonwealth Bridge. The CityColors scroll through a variety of colour changes every night. Combined with Prolite 575W MSR Weatherised Spotlights and Selecon Pacific 575W MSR's (in custom housings illuminating the orange roller coaster style hoop and spotting the Boolean string) is a stunning new look on the Canberra skyline.


There are over 1300 channels of lighting controlled by a Dynalite "ControlSoft" system. A central computer controls all building lighting uses a Dynalite Dynet-DMX Bridge Node to interface the two system requirementsThis system is unique as the NMA required not only overall control from a central location, but also multiple interface points throughout the galleries, with the many localised AMX systems that are controlling a variety of audio visual shows throughout the building. To facilitate this the system was broken down into a high-speed data trunk with slower speed spurs using the Dynalite network bridges to filter network activity and stop congestion. Some areas allow dual control via standard DMX when required. This was particularly important in the Main Hall & Temporary Gallery as they are ever changing. Day to day operation is scheduled via ControlSoft utilising Planview which gives a quick visual indication of the status of all galleries.

Display lighting in the Museum comprises Selecon Aureol Beamshapers and Beamspots, Selecon Astral PC's, Fresnels, Zoomspot's and Wall Washers. All fixtures are finished in a custom chrome finish and supplied with UV filters.

The Circa Theatre is a rotating theatre, divided into four sections, where visitors are introduced to the Museum's three main themes of Land, Nation and People.

"One of the more interesting and complex areas is the Circa introduction," said Norman Korte, managing director of Sound Advice Australia. "This is a ride-on turntable holding a total of 120 people. Visitors are loaded into seating at the main gallery's entrance and then rotated through 90 degrees into three introductory AV theatres before spilling into the main gallery of the NMA."

The first theatre, entitled Land, uses four Martin MiniMACs as well as four Martin CX2 colour changers. The Martin MiniMacs are used to mimic the MinMin phenomena - a weird natural night-time effect that happens in Northern Australia that looks like a floating orange rockmelon. They are also used to highlight emotions as part of the Eternity exhibit.

Also in the Land section are Selecon Cycs, and motorised Plasma Screens that float over a rear projection screen with full surround sound. Simultaneously the Nation and People quadrants use multiple visual displays such as LCD projectors, TV's and Plasma Screens with mood lighting via multiple channel HF Ballast Controllers colour mixing colour wrapped fluorescent tubes. All of the lighting is dealt with as one show using Showcad software linked to the SMPTE time code supplied by the AMX control system.

"A few sleepless nights went into this one!" said Norman. "All of the programming of the Circa Theatre was by Brett Fraser from Sound Advice Australia."

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