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National Gallery of Australia

The National Gallery’s 34,000m2 of conditioned spaces hold 165,000 artworks including the largest collection of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art in the world. In a long-term collaboration, operational conditions were maintained in the galleries while ageing, inefficient air-handling equipment was replaced to give improved environmental control and very significant energy reductions of over 50% in gas and 30% in electricity usage.


The 200 log coffins of The Aboriginal Memorial at the National Gallery of Australia commemorate the indigenous people who have lost their lives defending their land since 1788. The fragile, natural pieces, created by 43 artists for this public space, need a controlled, clean environment with stable temperature and humidity. A displacement air supply is concealed and integrated within the architecture, by PTW Architects, and the artwork itself. Air diffusers hidden in the gravel, cocoon the poles, and air curtains designed into the glazed façade, shield the space from excessive heat. This invisibly elegant solution allows visitors to experience the artwork unimpeded while preserving it for generations, even if the power is lost.