Leading Museums, Museum Leaders

MAAS closure timetable & AM partnership

The Australian Museum’s Pacific collections are moving out to make way for the King Tut exhibition. Credit: MCT

Linda Morris, Staged closure planned for the Powerhouse Museum, The Age, 24 July 2019

The timetable for the shut down of Sydney’s two biggest museums has been announced with the Australian Museum to shut its doors in August for 12 months so that work can begin on a new exhibition hall to house the King Tut blockbuster in 2021.

The Powerhouse Museum at Ultimo will also begin a staged shutdown from June next year more than 30 years after it first shifted to the site of the Ultimo Power Station and tram depot.

Lisa Havilah has given staff timetable for the closure of the Powerhouse Museum. Credit: James Alcock.

The main heritage power station building will close to the public mid-2020 while the Wran Building, the 1980s addition that features the main entrance and touring hall, will remain open for exhibitions for a further 12 months.

This will give the museum a limited public presence in Ultimo while providing management more time to find temporary homes for the museum’s very large objects in regional museums across the state.

The Boulton and Watt Steam engine and the Locomotive No. 1, which hauled NSW’s first train, is on permanent display in the Wran annexe. The Collection Relocation Project is to send most objects to Castle Hill’s Discovery Centre, with the remainder housed at Parramatta.

Originally, the museum was to have closed in January and reopened three years later in its new $1.17 billion home on the Parramatta River. Even with the new timetable, the museum will be without a physical home for two years.

Arts Minister Don Harwin has announced the Powerhouse Museum will present Australian Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year from August 16 on behalf of Australian Museum as it begins its $57.5 million renovations.

To enable the major building works to get underway, the Australian Museum will temporarily close to the public from August 19 for about 12 months.

While the Powerhouse Museum prepares to exit Ultimo, Mr Harwin is pursuing plans for a “creative industries presence” at Ultimo, according to the Berejiklian government’s brief response to a damning Upper House inquiry into the museum’s relocation tabled last week.

That two-and-a-half-year-long inquiry urged the government immediately abandon the project and the Powerhouse Museum be restored to its former glory.

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Council of Australasian Museum Directors, c/o Ms Daryl Karp, Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House PO Box 3934 Manuka, Australian Capital Territory 2603 Australia, © CAMD 2020
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