From 250kms of shelving woven into the National Library of Australia to a QR code that is hidden in plain sight at the National Museum of Australia, design is at the heart of Canberra.

Post-modern and modern influences blend together at the National Museum of Australia

Located on the scenic Acton Peninsula, you would never guess the National Museum of Australia is a museum from the outside. Some might wager it is home to a rollercoaster ride, whilst others believe it is just one giant sculpture. Pieced together like a jigsaw puzzle, this postmodern structure has a vibrant palette that catches the eye.

Inside the walls are exhibitions illustrating the stories and personalities of Australia, but we recommend exploring the walls themselves. Smooth anodised aluminium panels transition into concrete with raised dimples and sunken holes forming words written in braille. Keen for more? Continue around the building to the eastern wing where, its tiled walls, appearing to be purely decorative with eye pleasing colourful patterns, your phone knows better. Point a QR reader at the wall and you’ll be taken directly to the museum’s website.

National Library of Australia is the library to end all libraries

Over 250kms of shelves filled with books from around the world is housed within the walls of the National Library of Australia. To put that in perspective, you could drive from the library to heart of Ingleburn, on the outskirts of Sydney, and you still wouldn’t have clocked 250kms.

250kms of shelving translates into over 10 million publications. Understandably some of these materials need to be stored in the stacks. Head behind the scenes with a guided tour to see this hidden treasure trove and the old school method of requesting publications, the pneumatic tube system.

Walk across Australia at the National Portrait Gallery

The National Portrait Gallery is home to iconic portraits of Australian legends from across the nation. Look beyond these artistic masterpieces to admire the work of design masters. Before you get to the first exhibition you’ll already have walked over a priceless piece. Strips of granite from each state and territory line the floor of the main entrance hall allowing visitors to walk across Australia in 50 odd strides.

Australian Parliament House’s grand scale and hidden design features

Head up the hill to Australian Parliament House. Built in 1988 it is full of contemporary and classical features. Keep an eye out for ancient fossils in the Marble Foyer, which features marble that is 435 million years old. Raise your focus to the flag above this iconic building and you’ll be amazed by its grandeur. Would you believe it’s the size of two double decker buses?

The architectural features extend to functional purposes as well. The Members’ Hall is home to the Reflective Pool, which adds ambience to the area but also acts as a sound barrier, muffling the voices of those wanting to have secret conversations.

Remember to look up at the Australian War Memorial

Head to the Hall of Memory, nestled in the heart of the Australian War Memorial. Look up to the captivating Byzantine dome and discover the story hidden within this symbolic work. 

The moving nature of this dome artwork is increased by the fact that it can only be reached by walking past the names of the more than 102,000 who have given their lives in the service of this country.

The National Gallery of Australia is an artwork itself

Sure, the artworks are stunning, but look beyond the masterpieces to the walls themselves. The National Gallery of Australia has countless architectural patterns that present themselves when you least expect it. 

Uncover these design features that are hidden in plain sight on guided tours of the attractions. The knowledgeable guides know every corner of their buildings, providing insight into the architecture of the attraction as well as the collections within. Tours run regularly at the National Museum of Australia, the National Library of Australia, National Gallery of Australia, Australian War Memorial and Australian Parliament House. The best bit? They’re all free to attend.