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AUSTRALIA: Gandel Family provides Victoria Museum with its largest single donation

CHILDREN THAT VISIT the Melbourne Museum in Australia will soon have a million reasons to smile with the development of a new children’s gallery. Museum Victoria announced a £1m partnership with one of Australia’s largest private family foundations, Gandel Philanthropy, to develop the new play space. The partnership is the single largest gift from an individual in Victoria Museum’s history.

Mr John Gandel is an Australian key businessman, property developer and philanthropist, who made his fortune in the development of commercial real estate, as well as shopping centres around Melbourne, including Chadstone. According to Forbes 2015 Rich List, he has a net worth of £3.3bn, making him Melbourne’s second richest man after Anthony Pratt.

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The Gandel family (©

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The new gallery will feature a dinosaur dig to excavate fossils, a discovery garden, museum objects, and also an immersive camouflage disco where children can turn into spotty and stripy zoological specimens.When the area is complete in December 2016, the new gallery will be named The Pauline Gandel Children’s Gallery in recognition of Mrs Gandel’s love of children and her philanthropic goals.

The Museum Victoria CEO Dr Patrick Greene said it was important to acknowledge the contribution from the Gandels. “Together with the Victorian Government, funding this new partnership with Gandel Philanthropy enables us to develop a world-first exhibition gallery dedicated to the fostering of learning and creativity in children from birth to five years old. Museum Victoria has consulted widely with early childhood educators and specialists, playground designers and leading health professionals to create a unique and innovative space that will focus on play-based learning and development.”

Dr Greene said the opening of the gallery was well timed. “This coincides with the 100 year anniversary of the first children’s gallery opening its doors at what was then the National Museum of Victoria. The Minister for Creative Industries, Martin Foley, launched the project.”

The donor, Mrs Gandel, said she hoped visitors and their children would embrace the gallery. “It may sound corny, but children really are our future. The rich and varied experiences that children will encounter in the new gallery will no doubt help them grow and develop into inquisitive, informed and creative people.” 

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