Occupying the ground floor of a 1960’s modernist building on Dandenong Road at Monash University’s Caulfield Campus, the design of MUMA and its sculpture forecourt presented opportunities for exchange between the typically internal program of the museum. A variety of elements bring the inside out so that – in combination with the Ian Potter Sculpture Court – art will infiltrate the surrounding landscape to enhance the campus grounds and provide it with a cultural focus.
From Dandenong Road MUMA is heralded by Silverscreen, a specially commissioned art installation by Callum Morton, which marks the entry into the Art and Design precinct. A canopy along the southern edge of MUMA houses the bulk of mechanical services essential to achieving climatic control within the galleries. The decision to externalize services in the canopy maximizes internal floor area while providing a threshold between inside and outside; defining the entry, and creating a generous verandah space for outdoor events including after hours museum openings.
A key consideration of the design was the relationship between the architecture and art. The radial geometry of the existing building seemed incompatible with the curatorial ideal for spatial flexibility and relative neutrality, usually met with the black box or white cube. How could the new design work economically and strategically with the building’s idiosyncrasies to achieve this curatorial ideal? We resolved this conundrum by introducing a series of parallel lines in plan, running east west, that order the interior and its accompanying landscape.
The design of MUMA is a contribution to the ongoing debate about the relationship between architecture and art. Our response has been to balance moments of architectural expression with others of relative silence. As an integrated vision for art, architecture and landscape it exploits the public realm to make the experience of art more accessible and incidental.