The Powerhouse Museum is a major tourist and educational institution in the heart of Sydney. Although often described as a science museum, the Powerhouse has a diverse collection encompassing all sorts of technology. It has existed in various guises for over 125 years and has occupied the Ultimo site since 1988.
In November 2014, the Premier announced the Powerhouse Museum would move from Ultimo to Parramatta. Then in February 2016, expected sale proceeds from the Ultimo site of between $150 and $200 million were announced, with apartments expected for the site. In April 2016, the new Parramatta location was announced.
The Powerhouse is on a unique and strategic site, close to public transport links and other attractions. It remains a popular destination for locals and tourists alike.
No other government anywhere in the world has ever sold off a major state museum less than 30 years after opening in an award-winning, fit-for-purpose building, only to move the museum out of the city to create a smaller facility.
The Government has said revenue from sale of the site will go towards the new museum. Nevertheless, it is not clear that this planned move is the best outcome for the people of Sydney.
There has been a lack of transparency in the decision, and a lack of clarity as to whether all options and impacts have been properly assessed. There is enough demand for a museum of this type and size both at the present location and in Western Sydney. Once the existing site has been lost from public hands, it will be gone for good.