Add your submission on the Powerhouse

Please add your name to the submission below to tell the government that you support the Powerhouse staying in Ultimo and want the government to support the arts and museums of NSW. 

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Dear Chair,

I welcome this opportunity to make this submission to the Standing Committee on Museums and Galleries.

Further to section 1 e. of the Inquiry’s Terms of Reference, my comments are in relation to the sale and relocation of the Powerhouse Museum in Ultimo.

I support the government’s plans to develop a new museum in Parramatta. But the location, form, facilities and content of the new museum must be based on deep consultation with communities in Parramatta and western Sydney. The new museum should not be predicated on the closure and sale of the Powerhouse Museum at Ultimo.

Parramatta deserves, and has been asking for, cultural institutions reflecting its own past and present cultural significance and activity, and has expressed concern for the continuing integrity of its heritage sites. The government has the funds in its $600m cultural infrastructure fund to build a new museum in Parramatta. It also had an $860m stamp duty windfall last year.

If the government was serious about cultural equity between central and Western Sydney, it would be spending a good proportion of this fund in Western Sydney and regional NSW. It would be sharing significant state collections locked up in storage, it would already have a plan for digital access to the state’s collections, it would be requiring cultural institutions to reach a statewide audience, and it would be partnering with federal and local governments to fund cultural infrastructure in Western Sydney and regional NSW.

So far no new money has been allocated for Western Sydney cultural infrastructure beyond the sale proceeds from the Powerhouse Museum. The recent capital works grants for regional NSW allocated just $385,000 for cultural infrastructure across communities that represent 30% of the population of NSW. 

The Powerhouse Museum has a 135-year connection with the CBD as the second-oldest state museum. As the only museum of its kind in Australia – with a world class collection valued at $400m and held in trust for the people of NSW - it is therefore of state, national and international interest to have it easily accessible in the centre of a significant capital city.

The PHM’s exhibits, stories, audiences and community connections  are indivisible from the Ultimo Power Station building, its grand soaring spaces which are so appropriate for the power and transport collections, its supporters, volunteers and benefactors, and not least the vital neighbourhood connections, developed over 120 years. These include the museum’s education partners, its links with the design industries, tourism businesses in Darling Harbour, and the thriving innovation culture and start-up companies in Ultimo.

Relocating the museum to Parramatta will reduce access for visitors from regional NSW and other parts of Sydney as well as for international visitors.

The Powerhouse building is listed both on the National Trust’s register and as a local heritage item in the City of Sydney. It is too significant to destroy.  No government in the civilised world has ever demolished a major state museum less than 30 years after it opened in an award winning, fit for purpose, landmark building. It is a reckless waste to sell off costly museum infrastructure which is in good condition, and which was built for an asset life of 100 years.

I share the concerns of many regarding the recent underperformance of the Powerhouse. But this has more to do with the issues of leadership, governance, exhibition renewal, and a savage redundancy program causing the loss hundreds of experienced staff, and the impact of the compounding efficiency dividend. PHM staff numbers have more than halved in fifteen years. Education positions have gone from 27 ten years ago to just three in 2015, which is the reason why school visits have fallen. None of these issues will be fixed by moving the museum.

A more rational and visionary solution would be to build a new museum in Parramatta as a creative partner to the Powerhouse in Ultimo.

Selling the Powerhouse at Ultimo will not generate enough money to replicate the size and facilities at this site elsewhere. It’s estimated the sale of the Ultimo site may realise somewhere between $150-200m. The cost of replicating the existing museum facilities in Parramatta will be upwards of $600m, not including the cost of moving the collections and building new storage. So at best the government is pledging only 1/3 of the replacement cost of the PHM.

As a result, the taxpayer will be the loser in the demolition and destruction of valuable cultural assets at Ultimo, while paying for a smaller new museum in Parramatta.       

Thank you for considering my submission.


GOAL: 500 signatures

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Showing 350 reactions

  • Jill Overmyer
    signed 2016-08-05 20:21:14 +1000
  • Narelle Ryan
    signed 2016-08-05 20:20:01 +1000
  • Warrick Heald
    signed 2016-08-05 20:10:54 +1000
  • Barvara Hush
    signed 2016-08-05 19:58:48 +1000
    I have spoken with many tourists visiting Sydney. They would never go to Parramatta to see a show at the Powerhouse Museum. Its a big mistake to move it.
  • Ayse Kiran
    signed via 2016-08-05 19:53:22 +1000
  • Diann Scott
    signed via 2016-08-05 19:53:03 +1000
    Leave The Powerhose Museum in Sydney , so much easier to get to than Parramatta
  • Peter Hayen
    signed 2016-08-05 19:45:57 +1000
    Peter Hayen
  • Christina Pender
    signed 2016-08-05 19:36:14 +1000
  • Vins Yu
    signed 2016-08-05 19:30:15 +1000
  • Irene Stariha
    signed 2016-08-05 19:28:54 +1000
    Our family regularly visited the Powerhouse even when we live in outer Western Sydney. Its position allows for a fabulous day in town. Why make it service a smaller regional audience. With the number of exhibition pieces we could certainly have more than one Powerhouse !!
  • Laurence Daluz
    signed 2016-08-05 19:26:27 +1000
  • Jane Margarets
    signed 2016-08-05 19:25:38 +1000
    jane margarets
  • Rina Daluz
    signed 2016-08-05 19:24:02 +1000
    Rina Daluz
  • Judith Hayen
    signed 2016-08-05 19:23:19 +1000
  • Gregory Hitchens
    signed 2016-08-05 19:14:03 +1000
    This is a rote response, but I have followed the issue, and read the text carefully before sending
  • Robert Innes
    signed 2016-08-05 19:01:59 +1000
  • Jennifer Kent
    signed 2016-08-05 18:52:25 +1000
    Keep The Powerhouse where it is. Sydney needs cultural institutions close to public transport.
  • Lianne Clark
    signed 2016-08-05 18:50:24 +1000
    Please keep the Powerhouse and make it the flagship of many other museums all over Australia, to safely house our cultural history.
  • Marian Kent
    signed 2016-08-05 18:25:29 +1000
  • Jennifer Reath
    signed 2016-08-05 18:16:51 +1000
  • Jo Hobson
    signed 2016-08-05 18:11:02 +1000
    I have walked along the old upgraded goods line and the Powerhouse Museum is in a fantastic location for everyone and especially for tourists.

    PLEASE put the needs of NSW citizens before property developers.
  • Darian Zam
    signed 2016-08-05 18:08:58 +1000
  • Margaret Sharpe
    signed 2016-08-05 18:02:09 +1000
    A Parramatta site might be handier to the western suburbs, but it is well placed for access from the centre of Sydney, which is better for most rather than Parramatta which for many can involve a trip to the centre of Sydney (or even Strathfield) to get to Parramatta.
  • Martin Barr-David
    signed 2016-08-05 17:51:51 +1000
    Parramatta Powerhouse wil fail we’ll make that happen, because tourist won’t visit it.
  • Brian Bowman
    signed 2016-08-05 17:51:24 +1000
  • Desiree Fiene
    signed 2016-08-05 17:42:17 +1000
  • Charles Crone
    signed 2016-08-05 17:41:40 +1000
  • Mark Stiles
    signed 2016-08-05 17:41:34 +1000
    I strongly urge the Government to consider retaining the Powerhouse Museum on its present site, and building a Powerhouse West satellite museum in Parramatta. This is a better use of public funds than the proposed $460 million extension to the Art Gallery of NSW.

    Dr Mark Stiles
  • Eliza Fell
    signed 2016-08-05 17:39:14 +1000
    Good idea to build a new museum in Parramatta as a creative partner to the Powerhouse in Ultimo.
  • Tony Williams
    signed via 2016-08-05 17:38:05 +1000