Sydney 2000 Olympic Games 20 Year Anniversary

The Powerhouse Museum has the largest collection of Sydney Olympics objects in Australia acquiring over 600 items and counting. Reconnect with some of the major moments of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games 20 years on. See some of the most iconic props and costumes from the Games, as part of the Powerhouse collection.

Opening Ceremony

Sydney 2000 Olympic Games 20 Year Anniversary, opening ceremony torch, Museums Discovery Centre Collection
Image: Sydney 2000 Olympic Games torch used by Cathy Freeman, Powerhouse Collection

Held on Friday 15 September 2000, the Opening Ceremony of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games was a symbolic journey through Australia’s culture and landscape. A display of home-grown creative talent, this introduction featured anthems, speeches, oaths, flags, pop singers and a marching band and daring conceptual sequences. See: Deep-Sea Dreaming, Awakening, Tin Symphony and Eternity.

It also carried political expectations to represent national tolerance and social progress and to reflect the breadth of Australia’s creative talent. Pictured here is the Olympic torch used by Cathy Freeman on 15 September to ignite the Olympic cauldron during the Opening Ceremony. The flame travelled 27, 000km from Greece to Sydney via several Pacific islands and many towns in Australia.

Closing Ceremony

Sydney 2000 Olympic Games 20 Year Anniversary, prawn bike, Museums Discovery Centre Collection Image: The Prawn Bike, Powerhouse Collection

The closing ceremony of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games took place on Sunday 1 October at Stadium Australia, Homebush Bay. It included solemn formalities, an informal parade of athletes and a farewell party that took the form of an unregimented parade with floats that celebrated and often mocked aspects of Australian popular culture, featuring a giant shoe, mirror ball and a cockatoo costume.

The artistic director of the closing ceremony David Atkins explained, “The athletes have finished competition, and are ready to party, and we have set about creating a party to end all parties. We have decided to invite everyone into our giant Australian backyard – fully equipped with Hills Hoists, barbecues, an eclectic mix of music, performers and all manner of Australiana”. This prawn bike pictured is a famous feature of the closing ceremony as part of the ‘Parade of Icons’ segment on the Paul Hogan float.

'Aussie' Athletes

Sydney 2000 Olympic Games 20 Year Anniversary, swimsuits and caps, Museums Discovery Centre Collection Image: Speedo swimsuits and caps autographed by Susie O’Neill and Michael Klim, Powerhouse Collection

There was a feeling of shared pride for our ‘Aussie’ athletes as part of the high-calibre Olympic team and unprecedented performance, particularly in the pool. When the Australian team entered the arena at the opening ceremony of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, there was a deafening roar from the home crowd. It was an emotional high point of the Games.

This swimsuit and swimming cap were designed by Speedo International, Nottingham, United Kingdom in 1997 and made by Speedo Australia, Sydney, Australia in 2000 for the Australian Swimming Team competing in the 2000 Sydney Summer Olympics. The swimsuits and caps featured are autographed by Susie O’Neill and Michael Klim.

Volunteers Uniform

Sydney 2000 Olympic Games 20 Year Anniversary, uniform, Museums Discovery Centre Collection Image: Volunteer uniforms, Powerhouse Collection

The Sydney Organising Committee for the Olympic Games (SOCOG) recruited over 40,000 volunteers for the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games. Games Force 2000 was the accredited workforce that provided skilled and unskilled labour for most of the operations at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games. Its team of 80,000 personnel, including volunteers, and contracted and paid staff, provided the most visible and some of the most essential services at the Games. In return team members received complimentary transport to and from Sydney 2000 venues, complimentary meals while on duty, and a complete Games Force uniform.

The Games

Sydney 2000 Olympic Games 20 Year Anniversary, podiums, Museums Discovery Centre Collection Image: Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, The Games, Powerhouse Collection

These podiums reflect Olympic games customs, the presentation ceremony at the modern Olympic Games pays tribute to teams and athletes that finish in first, second and third positions. Examples of sports equipment as part of the Sydney 2000 Games Collection include the beach volleyball and relay batons and reflect the enormous responsibility of the Sydney Organising Committees to provide internationally accredited sports equipment. Only with this accreditation could world records be recognised. However, the significance of these objects also lies in their official branding – logos, colours and motifs – that distinguished Sydney 2000 sports equipment and visually unified the fields of play. Together, these marks represent the branding package that was designed to set an energetic and youthful tone for the Games.

SYDNEY OLYMPICS, Guided Tour

For a limited time, see some of the most iconic pieces from the opening and closing ceremonies at the Museums Discovery Centre, Castle Hill. Bookings essential for this guided tour as limited places are available.

Timed-entry tickets and physical distancing are among the measures we’re implementing in line with the NSW Government’s health guidelines to keep visitors safe during COVID-19.

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Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, Collection Set

Reflect on the importance of this event in the cultural history of Australia particularly New South Wales as well as the innovative design and technological solutions adopted to present what were at the time referred to as ‘the best games ever’. Learn more about the objects in the collection set.

VIEW THE SET