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Building a new Herbarium

The irreplaceable scientific, cultural and historical resources of the National Herbarium of NSW are moving to the Australian Botanic Garden to join the award-winning Australian PlantBank. The new state-of-the-art facility will protect the Gardens’ nationally and internationally significant collection of more than 1.4 plant million specimens. 

Our scientists are driving vital research not only here in NSW, but across Australia and internationally. The new Herbarium will become the nation’s premier international botanic research facility for our scientists, and contribute to Western Sydney’s emergence as an important scientific hub and Australia’s fastest growing economy.

The Herbarium has been located within the Robert Brown Building since it was constructed in 1982, with little to no change to the facility or the operations since that time. The building now has a lack of effective environmental controls placing the collection at risk from mould and insect infestations. 

The Herbarium collection has recently been valued at $200 million. With over 8000 new specimens being added to the collection every year, the Herbarium's storage capacity in the Robert Brown Building will also be exhausted by 2022. It is time critical that we create a new facility that fixes these deficiencies as well as allow our collection to grow and continue to work closely with other Herbaria around the world.

In total the project will run for four years from shovel in the ground to the centre opening in 2021 with the revitalised Brown Building completing in 2022. 

Design

The new Herbarium design is being created by leading Australian architectural firm, Architectus with Richard Leplastrier and Craig Burton, in conjunction with FDC Construction & Fitout. The first concept images were revealed in an announcement with Minister Rob Stokes and the NSW Treasurer in an exclusive story on Channel 10 in June, 2019.

A key feature of the new Herbarium is six protective vaults made of thermal mass materials to shield the collection from bushfires and extreme temperature events. Designs for the new Herbarium will be finalised over the coming months. 

Funding

The NSW Government has committed a $60 million package as part of the Western Sydney City Deal, which is a partnership between the Australian Government, NSW Government, and local governments.

The building itself is being funded by the NSW Government but the focus is building a world class innovation hub. For that to be realised additional funding is needed. To fund enhancements to the new facility and the existing Robert Brown Building, a fundraising strategy is currently being developed. 

Construction

Construction of the new Herbarium will commence in early 2020. The project also includes an upgrade of the Nursery at Mount Annan, the first in the Garden’s 30-year history, which will commence in late October 2019.  

Digitisation

A significant first-step to move the Herbarium is the digitisation of the herbarium collection which began on 31 April, 2019 at the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney. This is the largest herbarium imaging project in the southern hemisphere where over 1.4 million specimens will become high-resolution digital images. 

Project Team

  • Project Sponsor: BGCP Executive Director
  • Project Director: BGCP Director, Strategy, Planning and Projects
  • Program Manager: Manager BGCP Program Management Office – Trish Ferreira
  • Project Manager: Root Projects Australia
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