Museum Of Applied Arts And Sciences

Australia's contemporary museum for excellence and innovation in applied arts and science.


The Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences (MAAS) Strategic Plan sets a clear direction for the Museum and its iconic venues – Powerhouse Museum, Sydney Observatory and Powerhouse Discovery Centre.

The plan outlines our vision, ambition, areas of focus and a new interdisciplinary model of working.

Our Museum requires a sustained and strategic approach to long-term investment. A renewal of permanent galleries and buildings, collections and exhibitions; and a focus on building audiences is required to regain the Museum’s reputation and global standing.

Central to renewal is a commitment to ensure more of the Museum’s vast collection is on display. This will enliven our spaces, stimulate curiosity, and increase access to our State’s extraordinary collection.

As a primary focus of this Strategic Plan we will develop a significant Master Plan for all sites to include:

  • A focus on Sydney Observatory to ensure it becomes a leading tourism attraction
  • The redevelopment and integration of the Powerhouse into Darling Harbour
  • Realising the potential of Powerhouse Discovery Centre in Sydney’s West

Rose Hiscock

We live in an increasingly complex and interconnected world. Looking forward to 2020, we see the hybrid disciplines of arts and science as increasingly relevant to our world.

The Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences will capitalise on its unique collection, significant venues, and location in Australia’s global city to position itself at the forefront of contemporary museums.

Professor John Shine AO, FAA
President, Board of Trustees

Our Place


MAAS is Australia’s contemporary museum for excellence and innovation in applied arts and sciences.

The Museum is uniquely placed to demonstrate how technology, engineering, science and design impact Australia and the world.


This is an exciting time for NSW and the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences. The NSW Government and City of Sydney Cultural Policies, together with the plans for Darling Harbour and Barangaroo, will enliven our city.

The Museum will capitalise on the opportunity to expand our horizons and create strategic partnerships and alignments across cultural, residential, commercial and retail spheres. Further, the Powerhouse’s location in Australia’s most dynamic creative digital precinct offers us the potential to engage with an emerging generation of highly entrepreneurial innovators.

Photography by Geoff Friend

Our Mission

The Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences is a catalyst for creative expression and curious minds.

Our Vision

To be the leading Museum of applied arts and sciences; inspiring communities and transforming our world.

Our Values

Integrity. Courage. Passion.


The Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences carries a significant responsibility. It must balance its collection with a public responsibility to build knowledge and connect to the community. To achieve this, the Museum needs to be responsive and adaptive.

Our themes and disciplines will be used to determine our program and build a consistent identity for our Museum.

The following themes will underpin our activities:

  • Our place in time – our past, present and future
  • Our place in our state and our region, a focus on Asia
  • Innovation and technological change
  • Economic and environmental sustainability


The Museum holds a vast and diverse collection. Whilst we will continue to maintain this collection we will focus our experiences on the following disciplines:

  • Technologies
  • Health and medicine
  • Physical sciences
  • Engineering
  • Architecture and the built environment
  • Design and decorative arts
  • Fashion
  • Contemporary culture
Mid 20th century Italian glass being installed for an exhibition.
Read more about these objects: left, centre, and right.
Photography by Jean-Francois Lanzarone

Collections Overview

The Museum is acknowledged internationally for the calibre of its collection, scholarship and exhibitions.

The collection spans broad applied arts and science disciplines and provides a comprehensive insight into this rich and diverse country.

There is estimated to be well over 500,000 separate items in the Museum’s collection. The Museum’s collection is in high demand with an active regional, national and international loan program.


While awareness of the Museum’s venues is high (86% of NSW residents have heard of at least one of the three venues), market penetration is low.


Sydney residents9.6%
State (NSW) residents6.9%
Domestic tourism (interstate)1.9%
International tourism2.6%
Education, Sydney market7.4%
Education, NSW market4.8%

Future Audiences


This Strategic Plan must reverse a declining audience trend to significantly increase engagement with visitors at a local, national and international level. Our exhibitions, events, online and venue experiences will focus on building key audiences.

  • Students: we aim to double schools visitation over five years
  • Adults: a strategic program of exhibitions and events will build contemporary and social experiences for adults at all life stages
  • Tourism: our unique experiences and iconic venues will significantly increase tourism visitors
  • Families: we will continue to engage family audiences
  • Members: we will increase our membership, and aim to convert members to donors
  • Online: we will significantly build our online audiences
  • Community: the development of the Darling Harbour and Barangaroo precincts

Opthalmic refraction head, USA, 1850-1925. Photography by Marinco Kojdanovski

Strategic Ambitions

We will deliver our vision through four strategic ambitions.

These ambitions are interdependent, fostering a whole-of-organisation approach.


The desire to know or learn

Museums provide new ways to see the world.

1.Our experiences (people, research, programs and exhibitions) will evoke curiosity in our audiences and provide new pathways for participation.
2.We will support government, industry and the education sector by providing engaging opportunities for lifelong learning.
3.Our evolving collections will inspire and act as a catalyst for advancing knowledge.
4.We will share the knowledge we generate using all communication modes and platforms.
5.We will play a key a role in identifying areas of future research and investigation and undertake a rigorous program of interdisciplinary research across applied arts and sciences.
6.We will foster curiosity in our workforce.


The application of skill and imagination.

Creativity is integral to arts and sciences.

1.We will inspire and support creativity and innovation in our diverse community.
2.Our experiences will be entertaining, creative, engaging, participatory and productive.
3.We will provide a safe place for dangerous ideas.
4.We will encourage and support the production of creative content.
5.We will ensure a high standard of creativity in all experiences (people, research, programs and exhibitions).
6.A strong aesthetic will underpin our organisation; we value design that is joyful, beautiful, practical and tactile.
7.We will provide an environment that supports a creative thinking process.
8.Our collections will inspire creativity.


Working and communicating in partnership.

The Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences’ future relies on our ability to initiate and maintain successful partnerships.

1.Our audiences and communities are our most important partners; we will foster local ownership.
2.We will establish partnerships with commercial, national and international organisations and ensure a two-way relationship with our stakeholders.
3.We will provide an environment for social and individual engagement and interaction.
4.We will develop opportunities and platforms to co-create content with other organisations, our audience and our partners.
5.We will ensure that our marketing and communication builds audiences and reputation.
6.We will share our knowledge and expertise within our professional networks.
7.We will build agile interdisciplinary teams empowering our workforce to innovate and excel.
8.An exemplary service culture will underpin all interactions with stakeholders and staff.


Supporting long term relevance.

In order to thrive, the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences must adapt, grow and deliver a meaningful museum experience well into the future.

1.We will ensure sound business modelling, resilience, fiscal sustainability and maximise commercial returns securing public, workforce and stakeholder trust.
2.We will develop competitive opportunities and increase self-generated income through sponsors, donors and a sound commercial plan.
3.We will conserve and strategically manage and develop our collections for future generations.
4.We will maintain excellent buildings and ensure safe environs for both visitors and our workforce.
5.Our decisions and planning processes will be made within sound governance frameworks with a commitment to continuous improvement.
6.We will be an employer of choice and nurture an engaged, talented and sustainable workforce.
7.Our organisational structure and workforce will be agile and efficient.

High Level Success

MAAS has identified the following high level success factors to be addressed in the next five years.

Success factor


1. Audience growth across all categories: Education/Local/State 100% growth achieved in each category
Tourism Tenfold growth achieved
Online and digital engagement 300% growth achieved
2. A vibrant program of exhibitions, events and public engagement Satisfaction rating increased to 95%
3. Significant economic and social return to the state of NSW Economic contribution to tourism documented
4. Significant stakeholder support
  • $5m target for permanent gallery renewal set
  • Capital target via Master Plan established
5. A sustainable organisation for future generations
  • Commercial Plan and Master Plan completed
  • Total Asset Management plan in place
6. Sustainable collections management Strategic collections policy in place
7. Permanent gallery renewal
  • 10-year rolling plan for permanent gallery renewal in place
  • 5 galleries completed in 5 years
8. A confident brand and visual identity Brand strategy in place
9. International acclaim
  • Formal partnerships and collaboration with significant international institutions in place
  • International media profile developed
  • Active program in international conferences and journals in place
10. Regional accessibility Access to Museum’s exhibitions and expertise increased
11. Government Priorities

This plan will support key strategies in NSW 2021 A Plan to make NSW Number One:

  • To improve education and learning outcomes for all students
  • Enhance participation in cultural activities and increase the number of international creative and cultural events in NSW

  • 100% increase in education audiences
  • Vibrant tertiary sector membership
  • Local and tourism visitation driven by events and exhibitions program (economic impact study)


The Museum is a statutory body within the Ministry of Tourism, Major Events and Arts, which is part of the NSW Department of Trade and Investment, Regional Infrastructure and Services, responsible to the Minister for the Arts. The Museum is governed by a board of trustees.

Trade and Investment NSW Government logo
Photography by Mark Tedeschi
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