Travel through prehistoric wilderness at Melbourne Museum

Melbourne Museum’s newest visitor experience, Gandel Gondwana Garden, will open to the public from Friday 3 March 2023. Purpose-built to inspire curiosity and awe in young visitors to Melbourne Museum, Gandel Gondwana Garden is a one-of-a-kind paleontological garden.

Created and developed by Museums Victoria, with significant investment from the Victorian Government, Gandel Gondwana Garden has been generously supported by esteemed Victorian philanthropists, Mr John Gandel AC and Mrs Pauline Gandel AC, in honour of whom the Garden has been named.

Gandel Gondwana Garden will further expand Melbourne Museum’s spaces for children, with a brand new 900 square metre outdoor experience aimed at 6-to-12-year-olds, drawing connections between the much-loved Pauline Gandel Children’s Gallery and the landmark Triceratops: Fate of the Dinosaurs exhibition.

“This extraordinary play-based learning experience combines the best of museum research and knowledge with sensory and cognitive learning opportunities, to allow children’s curiosity to flourish. The Pauline Gandel Children’s Gallery continues to be one of the most popular attractions for families in Melbourne and the beauty and wonder of Gandel Gondwana Garden is sure to capture the imaginations of our younger visitors for generations to come. Museums Victoria are extremely grateful to Mr John Gandel AC, Mrs Pauline Gandel AC and the Gandel Foundation for their generous support and ongoing commitment to furthering learning experiences for children at our museums” said Lynley Crosswell, CEO and Director at Museums Victoria.

Mrs Pauline Gandel AC said, “It is vitally important that our future generations have opportunities to learn and be inspired. By igniting their creativity and imagination, we help them grow into inquisitive individuals with a thirst for learning. The fact that a lot of the content is based on the ancient knowledge and traditions of our Indigenous communities is an added bonus. My husband John and I are positive that this new learning space will be as successful as the Children’s Gallery has been.”

The design for the garden draws on programs of fossil discovery, research and the expertise of scientific staff from the Museums Victoria Research Institute, as well as local First People’s knowledge on reading landscapes and listening to country.

Through this unique outdoor experience, visitors can explore the science of Victoria’s biodiversity and the prehistoric animals, plants and habitats that have shaped our state’s natural world over millions of years. The name for the garden comes from the mega-continent Gondwana, that connected most of the southern hemisphere including Australia. The garden experience will demonstrate how our state’s environment has been shaped over millennia, providing a fascinating link to our understanding of evolution and the ecosystems that make life on Earth possible.

Steve Dimopolous, Minister for Creative Industries said, “Gandel Gondwana Garden will spark the imagination of young visitors and open up new learning experiences at Melbourne Museum. We are proud to build on the amazing offering at Melbourne Museum with recent blockbuster additions like Horridus the Triceratops, and now the Gandel Gondwana Garden, bringing the wonder of discovery to all Victorians.”

In addition to experiencing the rich and unique environment of the garden, visitors will have the option to undertake a digital puzzle-solving ‘quest’ available through their own devices.

Accessible via a web-app and with clues delivered via augmented reality, the quest will enhance the Gandel Gondwana Garden experience, prompting further exploration and learning about the prehistoric plants and animals featured in the garden.

Gandel Gondwana Garden is the last of three major projects aimed at creating world-leading experiences at Melbourne Museum for audiences from across Victoria and beyond. Gandel Gondwana Garden follows the award-winning Triceratops: Fate of the Dinosaurs (opened March 2022), featuring Horridus, the world’s most complete and finely preserved Triceratops fossil, and digital immersive experience Tyama: A deeper sense of knowing (opened July 2022).

Gandel Gondwana Garden will be included in a general entry ticket to Melbourne Museum. Entry for children under 16 remains free.