THE Australian Wildlife Arts Foundation celebrated a milestone event yesterday at the site of the proposed Wildlife Art Museum of Australia near Halls Gap.
The event marked the start of the design stage for the museum and the surrounding landscape.
The Grampians Wildlife Arts Society started planning for the development in 2010 and formed the Australian Wildlife Arts Foundation to take control of the museum's plans.
The Wildlife Art Museum of Australia will include art galleries, a convention centre, an amphitheatre, a library, walking trails and wetlands.
Foundation spokeswoman Josephine Illig said University of Melbourne architecture students studied the site and would now develop plans.
"We have secured land near Pomonal where we hope to build the museum with botanic gardens surrounding it," she said.
"One of the important things about this project is the partnership between the foundation and the University of Melbourne.
"Graduating students will design the museum and garden as part of their final year project."
She said one student's design would be chosen as the final product.
Ms Illig said yesterday's event was a lead-in to an official launch in October.
"We will have a big launch where the students' designs will be displayed," she said.
"There will also be a number of other events to inform people about the project.
"One of the key things we want to do is raise sponsorship so we can kick off the building work and development."
The foundation has budgeted $10 million for the project.
Ms Illig said it was a great opportunity for students to be involved in the project.
"They will be designing under the wing of leading firms, including Tract Consultants and Bates Smart Architects," she said.
University of Melbourne School of Design Professor Gini Lee said the university was excited to be involved with the project.
"This project is a model for ways in which communities can work together with a common goal," she said.
"The students will immerse themselves in a real setting and test creative solutions ."
Ms Illig said Northern Grampians Shire Council and Grampians Tourism also supported the project.
"Tourism in the region will greatly benefit from the project," she said.
The foundation has started a study to determine what impact the project will have on the region.