Issue 28

AV Case Study: Museum of Contemporary Art

Panasonic projection brightens up two hireable functions spaces in one of Australia’s most visited museums.


19 June 2024

TThe Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) Australia was first opened in 1991 in an historical building that used to be the Maritime Services Board, built in the 1930s. Not surprising given those early occupants, it has a prime harbourside location which must be the envy of developers today. The architecture is definitely art-deco and looks like it’s straight out of a Batman movie. But it’s all a bit moot these days because after the first decade of its life, during which the MCA gradually took over the entire MSB building, a modern, new five-storey wing was completed in 2012 and the MCA is mostly focused there, housing around 4500 works of art and attracting more than a million visitors a year.

As many such organisations do, the MCA makes some of its spaces available for hire to corporate and private events. That harbourside outlook is much sought-after with its view of the iconic Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House, so the spaces are in high demand for all kinds of clients – and of course incidentally these functions bring extra exposure to the artworks and the MCA’s core purpose. It means providing the latest AV for a wide range of uses from straightforward conferencing to weddings and celebrations.


Two separate but similar rooms cater for the bulk of the hirers – the Harbourside Room and the Quayside Room. Both were earmarked for updated projection and accompanying audio. Likewise, both spaces presented the same challenges, in particular being able to provide bright, clear video without being compromised by the ambient light from the large, windowed areas leading out to entertainment balcony areas. If possible, it was preferable not to shut off those spectacular views for the sake of the projection – not forgetting that the Sydney skyline at night is just as amazing. There are blinds that can shutter the windows if needs be, however, the idea is to avoid using them most of the time. Mind you, you’re going to need a pretty impressive PowerPoint presentation to keep your audience’s attention with the lights of Sydney beckoning beyond the glass.

Sydney-based production company AV1 has enjoyed a long association with the MCA, providing technical support, services and staff since 2006. AV1’s Managing Director, Nigel Mintern and his crew are well familiar with the MCA’s clientele. Add to this how AV1 has provided AV services and expertise to over 450 venues and hundreds of projects all over the country for the last 20 years, and the upgrade at the MCA was definitely in the best hands.


Each of the two rooms was fitted with a pair of Panasonic PT-RZ24KE (WUXGA) laser projectors and drop-down screens. Andrew Crook, AV1’s Marketing and Communications Manager, explained the importance of this choice. “Deciding on laser projection was pivotal to reducing just how much the picture quality might be affected by the ambient light. The laser light-source doesn’t get washed out like any bulb-based projection can be if the natural light is high, like on a particularly sunny day.”

There was an added benefit. Often the projectors are used simply to create a colourful ‘wallpaper’ effect on the wall, or maybe display a welcoming motif without the screens in place. The laser projectors handle this perfectly on the prepared painted surface. This can be combined with the LED Fusionbars also installed alongside the screens allowing a design of LED lighting and creative projection on the feature walls to greet clients as they arrive.

The ultra-compact size of the Panasonic PT-RZ24KE (WUXGA) suited the low ceilings of the rooms. Nobody would be ducking and weaving to avoid bashing their heads on the equipment, although chucking the obligatory bridal bouquet might be problematic. Similarly, each room was also paired with four L-Acoustics X8 speakers, also ceiling mounted so that the rooms were never cluttered by tripod stands or audio cable runs.

Nigel adds, “Panasonic was really helpful in advising about the best projector/lens setup and we ended up with the ET-D75LE6 zoom lenses. Also, you get all the other advantages of LED projection – less heat and noise, and a much longer operational life.”

The screens are 16:9 and have a 2m drop. Everything is controlled via Creston panels. AV1 actually has three full-time staff seconded to the MCA; a Producer, Technical Director and an AV Technician – which gives you some idea how busy things can get with smaller spaces needing frequent AV attention too.


Both the Harbourside Room and Quayside Room have seriously stepped up from their previous functionality with this clever design and choice of new AV equipment. The Panasonic projectors are delivering strong, clear images in a challenging environment where, in years past, you’d never even consider projection – in daylight, at least. With the fantastic vista on view outside the room, the Panasonic projection ensures that when people do step back inside and direct their attention to the screens, the view is going to be just as impressive.

Museum of Contemporary Art:


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Issue 28