The Gold Museum was built in 1978 and its harsh brutalist modern form was deliberately designed to contrast with the outdoor museum Sovereign Hill1 built opposite almost a decade earlier.
Architecturally it is an excellent example of 20th Century Brutalism. The design features the use of exposed raw reinforced concrete with a single horizontal window span. The large single storey flat building is laid out on and overhangs a flattened terrace that descends a slope and supported by circular columns. Along the roof are flat piers reminiscent of the steel framed modernist structures such as of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s Crown Hall. A dramatically curved and elevated ramp extends from the main entrance. On the southern side, the terraced land sloped downward and above it projects a dramatic angular wedge offsetting the heavy texture of the building with a light and floaty effect, contrasting with the main mass of the building to create an unexpected visual impact.
The Gold Museum hold 85,000 items including collections of artefacts and exhibitions from Ballarat’s gold mining history including gold nuggets and coins as well as collections of art, indigenous Koori cultural heritage displays, Chinese art, sculpture, public art and functions.2 Since 1981 it has been home to the Ballarat Historical Society.3 The Gold Museum Society began in 1991 as a volunteer organisation to maintain and preserve the museum’s collections.4 The museum had 5 million visitors up to 2010.
A $3.8 million dollar redevelopment of the museum began in 2010.