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Towers of Tomorrow

From a 5.1 metre croc to the world’s tallest buildings made of colourful blocks of LEGO®, there’s more than meets the eye to the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory. 

By Claire Eltringham

Many people may not realise this but the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory (MAGNT) has been around – in some form or another – since 1966. That’s a history almost 50 years old. The collection was originally housed in the Old Town Hall (originally known as the Palmerston Town Hall) in Darwin’s central business district. On that fateful Christmas Eve in 1974 when Cyclone Tracy ripped through the Top End and changed the landscape of Darwin forever, MAGNT was one that fell leaving much of its collection damaged. 

After several years and much deliberation, approval was finally granted for the construction of a new purpose-built museum and art gallery at Bullocky Point, on the site of the old Vestey's Meatworks. It was opened on 10 September 1981 and remains today, standing strong – both in structure and stature.

MAGNT is home to a collection of over 1.2 million natural history specimens and over 30,000 items of art and material culture. This bold and unique collection traverses one of the most significant historical collections of Australian Indigenous art and artifacts, to a permanent installation documenting the impact and aftermath of Cyclone Tracy, and a life size five metre saltwater crocodile called Sweetheart – an absolute favourite for most visitors!

The permanent collection along with a rolling program of high quality exhibitions – many touring from major institutions interstate – makes MAGNT pretty much one of the best places to escape to over the holiday season. Whether you’re flying solo, sharing the Museum with visiting family or simply savouring the air conditioning during the humid Wet Season, you will not regret a visit to MAGNT.

This season sees the arrival of a show that is guaranteed to make the hearts and minds of kids sing with pleasure – Towers of Tomorrow with LEGO Bricks. This is one exhibition you really need to see to believe! 

Constructed by Ryan McNaught, one of only 12 LEGO certified professionals world wide (yes, that is a job title), this exhibit features enormous model replicas of extraordinary and tall buildings from throughout Asia and Australia, with several of the structures standing at over three metres tall – be prepared to be in awe. 

This exhibit was a world first for Sydney Living Museum and features some very iconic Australian buildings, so it is a real treat to have it right here in Darwin. Some other buildings tackled by McNaught include the Shanghai Tower and Marina Bay Sans in Singapore. In fact, it is the diversity of buildings – the shape, construction and architectual prowess – that makes this exhibition truly magical. Not only will Towers of Tomorrow beguile the young, it will also astound the young-at-heart amongst us, with the sheer ambition and engineering of such an undertaking.

You might even be inspired to create your very own Tower of Tomorrow – how about one of the Territory’s iconic buildings like the Fannie Bay Goal, Darwin Wharf or Catholic Cathedral? With over 20,000 pieces of colourful LEGO at your disposal, the world is your oyster!

It’s a given kids will love this exhibit. But as adults, LEGO is also built into our history – it inspired us, educated us and reminded us of the importance of play. Towers of Tomorrow is your chance to experience this all over again.

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