Twenty-one today

by Robin Hirst
Publish date
28 March 2013
Comments (5)

Dr Robin Hirst joined the Museum in 1981 to manage the H V McKay Melbourne Planetarium. He was given the task of leading the development of the Exhibitions and Programs for Scienceworks. He is now Director of Collections, Research and Exhibitions at Museum Victoria.

The morning of 28 March 1992 was one the weary crew had worked towards for five years. We hoped that people would venture deep into the heart of industrial Spotswood to appreciate the new kid on the block, Scienceworks, our science and technology centre.

Scienceworks in construction Aerial view of construction site of Scienceworks, Spotswood, in 1991. (MM 122474)
Source: Museum Victoria

Building site Scienceworks building under construction, circa 1991. (MM 122505)
Source: Museum Victoria

The sight of long queues of excited families waiting for the doors to open made me feel both elated and apprehensive. This was the day we were to hand our creation to the public for their use and delight. This was the day for the locals to be admitted free of charge as a test run. When the doors opened that morning the crowd ran in. Like bargain hunters at a Myer sale, each vied to be the first at every exhibit.

With Boyce Pizzey, the Director of Science and Technology, we had conceived Scienceworks, designed the building, installed the exhibitions and planned how the place would operate. We spent many an hour in smoke-filled rooms challenging and being challenged. We crafted a new visitor-centric experience for families and school children. We thought it would work, but we didn’t know. It was so new and seemed so far from the city.

Geoff Harrison, Boyce Pizzey and Robin Hirst Left to right: Geoff Harrison, Project Manager, Boyce Pizzey and Robin Hirst at Scienceworks, 1991. The Pumping Station is visible in the background.
Source: Museum Victoria

The night before, we had the official opening with still much left to do at the crack of dawn the next day to be ready for the public.

Man with bicycles Richard Glover installing a display of bicycles at Scienceworks in 1992. (MM 133542)
Source: Museum Victoria

Crowds at Scienceworks Two views of crowds in the Amphitheatre at Scienceworks on the opening day, 28 March 1992 (MM 135043, MM 133479)
Source: Museum Victoria

Girl in playground Playground, Scienceworks opening weekend, 28 March 1992.
Source: Museum Victoria

The exhibits did suffer that day and many nocturnal emergency repairs were carried out. The crowds the day after were even bigger. In many ways Scienceworks has continued the way it began very much loved.

As Scienceworks turns 21 we can feel proud of what we gave birth to. Happy birthday.


Scienceworks Heritage Collection on Collections Online

Comments (5)

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Jenny 28 March, 2013 11:28
Neroli 28 March, 2013 12:40
Favourite MV blog photo ever - Robin with long hair and a fabulous comb over! Thanks for including it.
Ruth Rentschler 28 March, 2013 17:52
This is the best Arts Victoria e-news I have read. congratulations on the initiative to get us into your history!
Peter Hannah 2 April, 2013 10:48
Such a lot has happened in the last 21 years and with the usual fabulous effort and a little bit of luck there's still plenty to look forward to for Scienceworks.
Hannah Lee 9 April, 2013 13:00
i think the afganastan exibition was fabulous and i think that you should do another like it but a different contry like vietnam or china or something.
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About this blog

Updates on what's happening at Melbourne Museum, the Immigration Museum, Scienceworks, the Royal Exhibition Building, and beyond.