With the story of the timber industry at the heart of almost every resident in the South West of Western Australia, the redevelopment of the dilapidated State Timber Museum held high expectations from the community. Based on the outcomes of workshops with community members the project team, led by Suzanne Hunt Architect, designed an exhibition that reflected the timber story both in the content and the overall look and feel of the spaces.
Designed to be robust and low maintenance, the museum functions as an unsupervised space. A limited material palette for the exhibition creates contrast and highlights the design and finish of the building. An emphasis on clarity, legibility and accessibility aids in creating a dementia-friendly space. Visitors to the museum became aware of the how pivotal the timber industry was to the establishment of the Western Australian economy. Focus was placed on local Aboriginal knowledge, and the management of natural resources as a local and worldwide issue. The stories featured within the museum are layered with social and historical content, tactility and immersivity.
The architectural form of the building played an integral part in the design of the exhibition. Tall, slender exhibition panels echoed the verticality of the existing timber slats and accentuated the contours of the building. The shape and formation of the panels represent forest growth. The wider towering panels symbolise older timber, while the shorter panels are reminiscent of new growth forest. Low-level horizontal panels symbolise the cutting and milling process.
The project has received local, national and international visitors since opening in July 2018.