National Trust (NSW) launches Powerhouse Museum Survey

The Powerhouse Museum at Ultimo, Sydney, is not on the State Heritage Register. Understanding its heritage significance and value to the community may get it there – so the National Trust (NSW) is asking people to share their views.

Designed, adapted and opened amidst the fanfare of Australia’s Bicentennial celebrations of European settlement, the Powerhouse Museum converted the shell of an industrial building into one of the world’s most up-to-date museums and won the Sulman Prize.

The Powerhouse Museum’s Ultimo Depot Tramshed is listed on the National Trust Register and has been since 1997. The Powerhouse Museum is not on the State Heritage Register. The State Heritage Register is a list of places and objects of particular importance to the people of New South Wales. Listings are made under the Heritage Act 1977 (NSW) and must be of heritage significance for the whole state. The National Trust (NSW) is running a survey to quantify and qualify what the community thinks and how it feels about the Powerhouse Museum at Ultimo to recognise and acknowledge its heritage significance to the community.

You can complete the survey here. The survey closes on Friday 8 May 2020 at 5 pm AET.


Moves on the Powerhouse Museum

To provide background on the current status of the Powerhouse Museum, on 27 February 2015, the NSW Premier – then the Hon. Mike Baird – announced that Sydney’s Powerhouse Museum would be moved to Parramatta if the Coalition Government were re-elected. This election promise provided the decision with a mandate for sale rather than the Government having to go through a traditional consultation process with the community. At the time of the announcement by the former Premier, a site in Parramatta had not been chosen and the existing site at Ultimo would be sold to developers.

A NSW Parliament Upper House Inquiry has revealed that the construction of a new building at the Parramatta site proposed for the Museum move would impact on two historic properties from the late 1800s – Willow Grove and St. George’s Terrace, which are both listed on the National Trust Register (in 1985 and 1984 respectively).

The National Trust (NSW) Position on the Powerhouse Museum

The National Trust (NSW) strongly opposes the closure of the Powerhouse Museum at Ultimo.

The National Trust (NSW) has consistently and strongly opposed the sale of the Powerhouse Museum site for redevelopment and would also strongly oppose any demolition of the existing historic structure, the purpose-built 1988 extension and extant components that demonstrate the site’s original use.

The National Trust (NSW) supports the establishment of a Parramatta museum with its own distinctive function and style.

To the National Trust’s knowledge, no other major museum in the world has closed its major site to re-establish it more than 20 kilometres from a city centre.

The National Trust calls on the NSW Government to invest in the future of the Powerhouse Museum at Ultimo, establish a new museum complex at Parramatta in consultation with the people of that city and encourage increased visitation by instituting free admission to its key Sydney Museums in line with the practice of other great tourism cities around the world.

The National Trust strongly opposes the demolition of Willow Grove or St George’s Terrace at Parramatta, or any adverse impacts on these historic properties.

The National Trust (NSW) wants to see the Powerhouse Museum at Ultimo placed on the State Heritage Register and is surveying the community to quantify and qualify its views on the heritage significance of the site. The survey is open to the public and closes at 5 pm on Friday 8 May 2020.

Take the survey.