A major component of the restoration project was the development of four audio and visual installations which interpret and communicate this diverse history of Mt Stromlo Observatory and the Residence itself.
Developed by ESEM Projects, the installations are separated into key interpretive themes:
A home on the hill
While the Mt Stromlo Observatory is well known as a place for science, it was also a village, where the astronomers, engineers, staff and their families lived. 'A Home on the Hill' is a multifaceted soundscape illustrating the domestic life of Stromlo and the Director's Residence. The soundscape includes oral history recordings with former and current staff and residents of Mt Stromlo, and those with a close relationship to the site including Professor Penny Sackett, Professor Brian Schmidt, Claire and Hermann Wehner, Dr Ragbir Bhatal and readings of the memoirs of Miss Joan Duffield, daughter of founding Director, W.G Duffield and former occupant of the Residence.
The people of Mt Stromlo
A visual installation showcasing some of the well-known and lesser known faces of the Mount Stromlo Observatory including the Directors, astronomers, engineers, staff, students and residents. This installation is displayed in a replica telescope control panel. Compiled by ESEM Projects.
Eyes on the skies
A two way audio visual installation centred on the Observatory's significant contribution to the fields of Astronomy and Astrophysics. This installation includes readings of a significant Ngunawal dreaming story - Why the Emu Can't Fly, historic images of the Observatory and stunning views from the telescopes. Compiled by ESEM Projects.
An audio-visual installation illustrating the natural, physical, social and emotional impact of major fire events on the site. This installation uses oral history recordings, historic and recent images, news reel footage and music. Compiled by ESEM Projects.
The Director's Residence was once the social heart of Mount Stromlo. The immaculate grounds hosted parties, functions for visiting dignitaries, and other special events. The landscape was primarily in the European domestic style with large established trees, manicured lawns, a formal patio, rose garden, orchard, arbour and even a croquet lawn.
Following the 2003 fires, most of the landscape features and plantings were destroyed. What you see at the site today is a modern interpretation of the original landscape, taking inspiration from recorded memories and historic images of the site.
Stromlo had, and continues to have a strong sense of community, and many staff and residents fondly remember regular croquet games as a rich part of the site's social history. As the site context has changed dramatically since that time, landscape elements such as the croquet lawn are not in their original location, however the reinstatement of an element so strongly linked to the site's history was seen to be important in interpreting the past and invigorating the use of the site into the future.