WITH talented Canberra year 12 student and recent finalist on “The Voice Australia”, Lucy Sugerman, playing to a large crowd, the National Museum of Australia’s director Matt Trinca stepped onto the stage to announce what he believes to be an event of national significance – the launch of a major philanthropic initiative by the Gandel family from Melbourne.
Prominent philanthropists John and Pauline Gandel have donated $1.5 million in a partnership with the National Museum to support an unprecedented $6.5 million “Defining Moments Digital Classroom” initiative to take Australian history into classrooms nationwide.
The director told those present that the Museum’s Main Hall, now to be called the Gandel Atrium, had been conceived as “the meeting place of the nation”, intended to be a place of discussion and debate about what it means to be Australian.
Gandel Philanthropy, he said, had also assisted with the acquisition of a contemporary aerial sculpture, “Bogong Moth”, by Kamilaroi artist, Reko Rennie. The neon coloured artwork is now suspended from the Atrium dome.
The “Defining Moments” project, Dr Trinca explained, explores key moments which have shaped Australian culture and identity. The revolutionary Defining Moments Digital Classroom will allow students to explore this history via interactive smart boards, iPads, videos, virtual tours, 3D scans and trivia quizzes.
He praised the personal input of John and Pauline Gandel and of the CEO of Gandel Philanthropy Vedran Drakulic. He said support had been critical to ensuring that the project became a reality.
Federal Arts Minister Mitch Fifield described the space as “one of the great public spaces named for one of the great Australian families”. The Gandels, he told those present, exemplified the way hard work and good fortune could enrich the nation, referring to the couple’s passion for education, also praising their philanthropy seen at the National Gallery of Australia, the National Gallery of Victoria and the Jewish Museum, among other institutions.
The “Defining Moments Digital Classroom” will be aligned to the national curriculum, tailored to year groups and made accessible to classrooms nationally from 2020.