When Melbourne Museum opened in Carlton Gardens in 2000, it included a special space designed for children - a successor to the much-loved Children's Museum at the Swanston Street site of the Museum of Victoria. During the design of Melbourne Museum, which began in the mid-1990s, the notional children's space was called the Children's Museum, and was later known as the Children's Gallery. It is located at the west end of Melbourne Museum (a campus of Museums Victoria, designed by Denton Corker Marshall). Its centrepiece was the 'Big Box', a large architectural structure visible on the north exterior of Melbourne Museum, plated with coloured panels. Inside, the Big Box provided a large open space with soaring ceiling, with smaller spaces adjacent as thoroughfares and smaller displays. An adjacent garden provided recreation space.

After more than a decade of successful operations, redevelopment of the Children's Gallery began in 2013, with collaborations between Museums Victoria's programs, curatorial and exhibitions staff. The design was led by Museums Victoria's Pete Wilson and design studio UAP. In 2018 the space reopened as the Pauline Gandel Children's Gallery, providing large indoor and outdoor spaces for babies to five-year-olds and their carers to explore, play and learn.

In 2023 a new exploratory garden, the Gandel Gondwana Garden, opened expading Melbourne Museum's spaces for children, connecting the Pauline Gandel Children's Gallery with a new 900 square metre outdoor play-based learning gallery for six-to-12-year-olds.

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