Gandel Gondwana Garden – unearth the evolution of Victoria’s prehistoric flora and fauna at Melbourne Museum

Officially opening tomorrow, Gandel Gondwana Garden at Melbourne Museum will ignite imaginations with extraordinary learning experiences built for young audiences.

A new children’s paleontology-themed outdoor garden, opening to the public on Friday 3rd March 2023, Gandel Gondwana Garden will invite families to explore Victoria’s rich biodiversity.

Gandel Gondwana Garden, a unique exploration-based learning experience aimed at six-to-12-year-olds, draws on the finest museum research and knowledge, and includes sensory and cognitive learning opportunities for young visitors to interact with. The Garden further expands Melbourne Museum’s spaces for children, drawing connections between the much-loved Pauline Gandel Children’s Gallery and the landmark Triceratops: Fate of the Dinosaurs exhibition.

In addition to receiving investment from the Victorian government, the Garden has been generously supported by esteemed Victorian philanthropists and long-term Museum patrons, Mr John Gandel AC and Mrs Pauline Gandel AC, after whom the Garden has been named.

Created in collaboration with members of Museums Victoria’s Yulendj Group of Elders, the experience is grounded in First Peoples’ knowledge, and visitors are encouraged to learn by observing the environment and paying attention to the stories of the landscapes.

Gandel Gondwana Garden is a living, breathing gallery.  It will change with the seasons and, like the children it has been designed for, grow and develop over time.said Lynley Crosswell, CEO and Director at Museums Victoria.

The garden provides a unique learning experience, where visitors of all ages can explore the underlying principles of the natural ecosystems that make life on Earth possible, deepening their appreciation of nature and our vital role in it.”

Visitors will learn about 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 supercontinent Gondwana which connected most of the southern hemisphere, including Australia.

“We hope that the Gandel Gondwana Garden will be as sought-after and treasured adventure space as the Children’s Gallery. This is yet another space which will offer our younger generations an opportunity to engage, to learn, to explore, to develop their skills and their imagination – and to have fun along the way as well. By encouraging their thirst for knowledge and discovery, we are giving our youngsters, and this country, the best possible opportunity for a better future,” said donors John and Pauline Gandel AC.

Steve Dimopoulos, Minister for Creative Industries said, “Museums Victoria always ensures its exhibitions are exciting and also make it easy for children to learn about a wide variety of subjects.”

“Combining First Peoples’ knowledge with the latest scientific research, the new Gandel Gondwana Garden delivers a fun-filled and low-cost experience for the whole family.”

An added digital experience for visitors to Gandel Gondwana Garden will be launching later this year. Created in collaboration with experience design company Sandpit, Drama in Gondwana is an interactive digital quest which expands on opportunities for young visitors to learn through play and further explore the flora and fauna that existed on the supercontinent Gondwana.

Gandel Gondwana Garden is the last of three major projects supported by the Victorian State Government 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 hugely popular digital immersive experience Tyama: A deeper sense of knowing (opened July 2022).

The Gandel Gondwana Garden is a new permanent experience at Melbourne Museum officially opening Friday 3 March 2023. Visitors can enjoy free activities suitable for all ages on Saturday 4 March from 10am to 2pm, including guided tours and storytelling.

John and Pauline Gandel with dignitaries during a visit to the Gandel Gondwana Garden.