Democracy DNA

Democracy DNA: The people, the prime ministers and the world is the flagship permanent exhibition at the Museum of Australian Democracy. Occupying the former parliamentary library in Old Parliament House, the exhibition design enhances the heritage space through an exciting blend of sleek, sophisticated design, and the reinvigoration of the original bookshelves.

Shared DNA

The centre of the exhibition examines five essential questions or issues of democracy. We designed a separate ‘cluster’ for each question. The clusters are sleekly designed and compellingly tactile. Seats, showcases, stories and screens are integrated within. The clusters share basic shapes, materials, and forms, yet each one evolves from the last to be unique. Smooth benchtops contrast with a textured paint finish on the bases, both in crisp white. Hovering above the clusters up into the vaulted ceiling are layers of arced shapes. Above each cluster is an aluminium ring displaying the title. Floating above that are three large, curved screens, onto which is projected film footage of the Australian people through time.

A rich experience

The original library bookshelves sit around the perimeter of the gallery in eight alcoves. These have been gloriously re-imagined as a timeline of Australia from Federation to the present and beyond, with the bookshelves filled with stories and images of Australian people, the prime ministers of the day, objects from each era, interactive activities, touchscreens, and world events. The effect is rich, absorbing, and exciting as visitors follow the timeline around the gallery.

Democracy DNA has been a hit with visitors, who respond to the informal flow, the wealth of activities and interest, and the visual and tactile appeal of the design. The beautiful and significant heritage space is back to life, buzzing with a low hum of excitement and engagement with Australia’s democracy, past and present.


Museum of Australian Democracy (MOAD)


Canberra, ACT


Studio Starr


Redzebra Photography

Exhibition design for Democracy DNA