Australian Academy of Science, Canberra

The Shine Dome building

The Australian Academy of Science is located in Canberra, the capital city of Australia. Canberra itself is historically interesting because it is one of the world’s “artificial” cities – it was planned and built early last century for the purpose of being the young nation’s capital.

The Academy is modelled on the Royal Society of London and whilst it holds scientific archives it also encourages young scientists and educates the public. The wide-ranging program of regular public events and lectures is well worth a look for anybody, not just those interested in science. Historical scientific material held by the Basser Library is available to genuine researchers of any sort, from family historians to serious scientists. The Library holds the collections of several prominent Australian scientists, including a range of biographical material and is open four days a week.



The Shine Dome (pictured above) is a mid-twentieth century heritage listed building which looks like a copper-skinned grounded flying saucer surrounded by a moat. Its design was radical in its day and caused a few headaches during construction, with doubts that it would stay up. The internal sound baffles had to be modified after the building was finished because an optical illusion caused by their design was making people nauseous (which makes it hard to concentrate on serious subjects). The outline of this building appears on the Academy logo.

Ian Potter House contains the offices of the Academy. It is a much more traditional building than the Shine Dome, and was originally build in the 1920’s as one of four hostels constructed to accommodate public servants posted to the new capital. It is built in the Georgian style common between the world wars, and like the Shine Dome, is heritage listed – even the vigorous wisteria plant spreading along the front is included in the listing and in Spring is a spectacular sight.

Australian Academy of Science address and hours

Academy of Science
Ian Potter House
Gordon Street
Acton ACT 2601

You can visit during normal working hours.

Photo by st0nemas0nry on flickr

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Last updated by on in Destinations.

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