The creation of the new Powerhouse represents the most important cultural transformation of the institution and signifies a major shift in how Sydney thinks about itself, its culture and its communities. It marks the largest cultural investment since the Sydney Opera House and for the first time, a State cultural institution will be located in Western Sydney – in Parramatta, the geographical heart of Sydney.
The Powerhouse was established in 1879 in the Garden Palace which emerged from a history of 19th Century grand exhibition halls, including the Grand Palais. The new Powerhouse will radically return to its origins through the creation of exhibition spaces of extraordinary scale that will enable the delivery of an ambitious, dynamic and constantly changing program that provides new levels of access to Powerhouse Collections.
The new Powerhouse will reflect the communities and cultures of one of Australia’s fastest growing regions. It will hold First Nations culture at its core and set a new national benchmark in culturally diverse programming. The Powerhouse will be highly connected through multiple transport links and integrate into the fine grain of the city, presenting a program of new large-scale events for up to 10,000 people that will expand the annual cultural calendar of Sydney.
In a new landmark program for Australia, the Powerhouse will establish the Powerlab – 60 creative residential studios that will bring together researchers, scientists, artists and students from across regional NSW, Australia and around the world to collaborate and participate in Powerhouse Programs. The Powerlab will feature digital studios to support music and screen industries alongside co-working spaces, education and community spaces. Integrated into the Powerlab will be a research library and kitchen that will support an NSW industry development program including archives and oral histories.
The Powerhouse will be an active working precinct that provides world-class education, research and community facilities. It will set a new international benchmark in experiential learning through the creation of an immensely scaled 360-degree screen space, unique to Australia. Through a changing program of commissioned works, the 360-degree screen program will provide distinctive experiences immersing students and audiences in science, astronomy and technology.
The Powerhouse will be a 24-hour precinct that will actively participate in the daily life of the city. It will present multiple programs and events that are presented concurrently across the day and into the evening. Through an active night-time program, the Powerhouse will significantly contribute to the growth of Sydney’s night-time economy providing experiences that intellectually and emotionally connect communities and drive repeat visitation.
The Powerhouse will establish a new paradigm for museums through the creation of an institution that is innately flexible. It will be a place designed to constantly evolve in response to the needs of its growing communities. It will become a national and international destination renowned for its distinctive programs driven by original research and inspired by its expansive collections. It will be a place of collaboration, a mirror of its communities, forever embedded in the contemporary identity of our city and our State.