queensland museum 2012

I worked with Freeman Ryan Design Director Susan Freeman to develop and deliver two key exhibition elements for the refurbishment of the Queensland Museum in Brisbane.

Susan and I developed the concept and provided creative direction for this project that integrates a horizontal band of five high-definition 65” displays, with surround audio, into the architectural fabric of the refurbished foyer space.

The custom-built media content was created to reflect the depth and diversity of the museum’s collections, and the specialist skills and professional practices employed to ensure the future of their hundreds of thousands of collection objects.

Technical and production support was provided by Lightwell, and Carbon Media.

The three key program elements are Welcome to Country, Shelf, and Diversity.

Welcome to Country
Brisbane’s acclaimed indigenous production company Carbon Media created a dynamic filmic expression of the traditional Aboriginal ‘Welcome to Country’ that appears at programmed intervals, and can to be played selectively for occasions such as exhibition openings or visits by VIP groups.

Collections, and the care of them, are at the heart of any great museum. ‘Shelf’ is a series of evocative short sequences in which the hands of museum staff carefully place a wide variety of objects into a neutral white space, one after another, across all five screens.

The objects are not interpreted or explained. Poetic associations arise as objects from all collection areas are shown, removed and replaced by other objects.

SHELF is designed to trigger the curiosity of the visitor, setting up the question “What’s that ?” and delivering a sense of the care and attention to detail required of museum staff in their work ‘behind the scenes’.

Also behind the scenes, staff research, conserve, interpret, and work on display of the museum’s collections. To track and report on the hundreds of thousands of objects, staff use digital collections management systems (CMS).

‘Diversity’ presents and animates thousands of images derived directly from the QM CMS to create an impression of the extraordinary diversity of objects within the collections. Strips of images move up and down the screens, in motion similar to the swipe-search action familiar from digital touch-tablet devices.

Various film sequences, showing close-ups of the hands of museum staff at work, accompany the scrolling myriads of CMS images.

This pairing of object and activity points to the care, attention and skills required to conserve and manage the vast storehouse of QM’s collections.

Other sequences
Other media elements provide brief interpretive sequences for the Hinkler aircraft suspended in the foyer, the striking imagery of the Dodd insect cases and the paintings of Ellis Rowan, and highlight some of the extraordinary photography produced by museum staff.

Susan Freeman invited me to curate a new exhibit for the museum’s Discovery Centre.

Designed by Freeman Ryan Design, this exhibit uses the central theme of ‘Shark’ to explore collection strengths of the museum (natural sciences, social history, indigenous cultures, palaeontology), and speak about museological practices over the 150 year life of the institution.

I worked closely with the museum’s curators to find collection objects for the display, then researched and wrote all interpretive texts, selected imagery for graphics and assisted the design process.

With Robert St Clair, I designed and created all content for in iPad interactive presenting numerous quicktime clips about sharks and an illustrated Shark FAQ.

A large high-definition screen shows footage I commssioned and edited of museum staff conducting biological surveys underwater in Brisbane’s Moreton Bay.

gary warner 2012


creative director (with Susan Freeman)
media production
design liaison

Contract Period
Sept 2011 – Feb 2012