Research Projects

The Powerhouse is involved in funded research projects with different partners in line with our Research Strategy and overall vision. We currently partner with universities in the following projects:

netARChive: Redefining museum experience as immersive networked narrative: 2020–2022

Project leader: Professor Dennis Del Favero, University of New South Wales
Funded by the Australian Research Council (ARC)

netARChive aims to investigate and enable innovations in the way we create and experience collections through the delivery of a networked artistic visualisation system. By doing so, it engages the new digital opportunities that are poised to advance the development of the Australian museum sector in the 21st century. Anticipated outcomes include a demonstration of how users can explore the Powerhouse’s distributed collections in concert with a database system scalable to a range of museum experiences.

The Powerhouse project leads: Matthew Connell, Acting Director Curatorial, Collections and Exhibitions and Arul Baskaran, Digital Engagement Manager.

A national framework for managing malignant plastics in museum collections: 2017–2019

Project leader: Dr Petronella Nel, University of Melbourne
Funded by the Australian Research Council (ARC)

This ARC Linkage project will have an important conservation focus for museum collections. The research aims to discover methods for predicting and increasing the lifespan of malignant plastics by comprehensively studying their identification, deterioration and conservation. As an outcome of the research museums will be provided with a model for prioritizing and effectively allocating resources for maximizing the preservation of a vulnerable group of collections for future generations.

The Powerhouse is a partner in this important conservation project. Other partners from the cultural sector include Museum Victoria, Queensland Museum, South Australian Museum, and the Art Gallery of NSW. The University of Melbourne will lead the project and the University of Technology Sydney and Flinders University are university partners in the project.

The Powerhouse project lead: Sue Gatenby.

Innovative Learning Environments and Teacher Change: 2016–2020

Project leader: Associate Professor Wesley Imms, University of Melbourne
Funded by the Australian Research Council (ARC)

The University of Melbourne’s Learning Environments Applied Research Network (LEaRN) is partnering with schools in NSW, Queensland, the ACT, Victoria and New Zealand to research how teachers can utilise ‘innovative learning environments’ to improve their teaching skills.

This ARC Linkage project aims to bridge a gap between the educational potential of innovative learning environment designs, and their actual performance. Currently, multi-modal technology-enabled spaces are not producing demonstrable benefits for students. Many teachers resist altering their mindset about how students learn effectively in these spaces and thus how teachers should teach differently. The project aims to work with schools, government and industry to analyse the relationships between quality teaching and effective use of innovative learning environments. The new understanding gained through the project is expected to guide developments in pedagogy, policy and design and to produce strategies to improve learning in schools across Australia and New Zealand.

The Powerhouse is a partner in this project of which there are 14 in total including: Anglican Church Grammar School in Brisbane, Woodleigh School in Victoria, and the Australian Science and Mathematics School in South Australia, New Zealand Ministry of Education, the Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta, the Department of Education Training and Employment in Queensland, the ACT Education and Training Directorate, and the Department of Education and Communities in NSW, Ecophon Acoustics Sweden, Marshall Day Acoustics Australia, Hayball Architects, Telstra Australia, and the Council of Educational Facilities Planners International.

The Powerhouse project lead: Peter Mahony.

Curating Third Space: the value of art-science collaboration: 2015–2019

Chief Investigators: Professor Jill Bennett, Dr Lizzie Muller, UNSW Art & Design and Professor Lynn Frogget, UCLAN
Funded by the Australian Research Council (ARC)

This ARC Linkage project investigates the importance of art–science collaboration in contemporary research. Developing an innovative method to evaluate aesthetic dynamics, the project seeks to examine how art–science generates new modes of transdisciplinary knowledge and unique forms of public engagement. The project focuses on the human impact of art-science collaboration through case-studies of major international art-science projects. Findings are intended to inform strategies for cultural programming, to enable museums to support art–science exploration and to increase the engagement of new audiences with both art and scientific research. Through its network of partner organisations in the cultural sector, the project aims to establish Australia as a global leader in transdisciplinary research and cultural programming.


The research applies an innovative psychosocial method called the “visual matrix”, designed to enable responses in a group setting to an art work, exhibition, process or event. Imaginative and emotional responses are stimulated with the matrix, which has been applied in various fields including art, health, social care and citizenship.

The exhibition Human non Human at the Powerhouse was the final case-study in the project. It features four immersive installations enriched by art and science to ask What makes us human and how might humans adapt in the future? The exhibition addresses the social impact of accelerating technology, connectivity and a rapidly changing environment.

The Entanglement Interactive maps many interconnected ideas stimulated by the research across the case studies that resulted in the curatorial development for Human non Human (final case-study).

The Powerhouse is a partner in this project. Other partners are Australia Council; Foundation for Art and Creative Technology, UK; and ArtScience Museum, Singapore.

The Powerhouse staff: Katie Dyer (project lead), Nina Earl and Dr Deborah Lawler-Dormer.

‘Let’s go to the museum’: an investigation of the expectations and learning engagement of prior-to-school aged children and their families: 2016

Project leader: Associate Professor Sheila Degotardi, Institute of Early Childhood, Macquarie University
Funded by the Enterprise Partnerships Scheme, Macquarie University

This pilot study will investigate how museums can promote museum-based involvement and learning of diverse families with prior-to-school aged children. Macquarie University will lead the project and the Powerhouse will participate as a partner along with Museum Victoria and the Australian National Maritime Museum.

The Powerhouse staff: Lily Katakouzinos (project lead), Danielle Aynsley.