Client: WA Museum
Location: Old Perth Gaol, WA Museum
Creative Content: Sandpit

The Electric Canvas designed and installed an innovative digital projection mapping solution for the heritage-listed Old Perth Gaol, situated in the central courtyard of the WA Museum. Visitors to the museum and the wider Perth Cultural Centre are currently treated to an engaging nighttime projection “son et lumière” experience. The permanently installed system will also enable the museum to visually transform the Old Gaol building for various special events and exhibitions for years to come.

The Electric Canvas had been working with the WA Museum since late 2018 on its plans to install a permanent projection system for the new museum. Several options were discussed and investigated and, after several rounds of technical studies, tests and budget evaluations, the Old Gaol was chosen as the preferred site.

TEC completed a technical study and overlay, however initial solutions were unfortunately vetoed due to heritage constraints. Several rounds of study work ensued to find suitable positions from a technical projection standpoint that also satisfied heritage legislation and the museum’s architectural and aesthetic requirements.  The answer was to bring the projectors indoors to WAM’s ground level corridors with 6-metre-high floor to ceiling windows looking out onto the Old Gaol below. Although installing projectors behind windows at complex angles presented an interesting set of challenges, it thankfully eradicated the multi-layered intricacies of working through heritage requirements.

In order to cover the entire façade of the gaol (which includes deep returns and angled corners) as well as the Dance Circle, the projectors needed to be installed at two separated locations of the corridors – the eastern foyer and the exhibition foyer. TEC carried out a real-world feasibility test on-site to evaluate the outcomes of projecting through the corridor windows and confirm that light loss and bounce could be mitigated successfully. Installing the projectors in clear view within a newly constructed public area of the museum also required an elegant rigging solution that would also allow for efficient access for servicing and maintenance.

TEC developed 2D and 3D architectural templates and content production workflows for the Old Gaol so that a variety of design approaches can be utilised into the future. The project’s first show, “Illuminate: Timescapes”, is 20-minute feature that references the Nyoongar Six Seasons and presents a surreal and magical narrative featuring the unique plants, animals and stories of Western Australia. The work was produced by creative design studio, Sandpit, from Adelaide, who worked with Aboriginal representatives, the WA Museum and the Minderoo Foundation to create the show’s six acts.