Powerhouse Museum Ultimo revitalisation powers along with community feedback


The community is being encouraged to share their feedback on the proposed design to revitalise the much-loved and iconic Powerhouse Museum in Ultimo.

On exhibition until 30 May 2024, the new design honours the heritage of the buildings by retaining the Wran building, and transforms the heritage listed Boiler House, Turbine Hall, Switch House and Ultimo Post Office buildings to create four flexible, dynamic exhibition spaces.

The NSW’s Government’s $250 million investment in a heritage renewal will reorient the museum’s main entrance and create a new public square and entry via The Goods Line to enable better connection with surrounding precincts and public transport.

Audiences and community will benefit from improved exhibition and programming spaces and allow the Powerhouse Museum to accommodate international exhibitions and increase the community’s access to the renowned Powerhouse Collection of more than 500,000 objects.

The visitor experience will be improved through easier visitor circulation, expanded programming, and increase its use for the community.

Key features of the Powerhouse Museum Ultimo design include:

  • Four flexible, dynamic exhibition spaces that allow the museum to create and present high quality, internationally leading museum exhibitions across the applied arts and applied sciences and featuring the Powerhouse Collection.
  • New public domain spaces including a 2000sqm square at the northern end of The Goods Line, the Post Office Courtyard on Harris Street and an internal courtyard accessible from Macarthur Street.
  • Establishing one central, intuitive, and accessible visitor circulation system to access exhibition, program, and education spaces to support a high-quality visitor experience.
  • Reorienting the museum’s entrance to the Goods Line, improving access from the light rail and Darling Square. A newly activated façade housing creative industries along Harris Street, which will improve the museum’s contribution to the Ultimo streetscape.
  • Separating front-of-house and back-of-house operations from exhibition and circulation spaces.
  • Dedicated spaces designed for the Powerhouse learning programs, enabling the museum to create immersive educational experiences, workshops and programs catered to students and learners of all ages.
  • Conservation of the heritage-listed original Power Station buildings for their ongoing adaptive reuse by the Powerhouse.

Get more information on the State Significant Development Application (SSDA) and supporting Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and make a submission by 30 May 2024.

Infrastructure NSW is available to support the community to understand the detailed and technical information through community information sessions held throughout the Public Exhibition period.

Get more information or book a session on the Powerhouse Ultimo.

The NSW Government will carefully consider all submissions on the revitalised designs to ensure the community’s voice is actively incorporated into the future of the Powerhouse Museum in Ultimo.

Five formal consultation periods for the project have been held between 2020 and 2024, with the 6thnow underway. Each has included engagement with the local community, neighbours, stakeholders, government authorities and agencies. The feedback received has been considered during the evolution of the project. Engagement with the community will continue during upcoming phases of the project, including detailed design, construction and operation. All feedback has been used to help inform the current EIS, as part of the SSDA.

Minister for the Arts John Graham said:

“The Powerhouse is one of Australia’s oldest and most important cultural institutions. This heritage revitalisation will transform the museum and ensure future generations can continue to enjoy an exceptional experience when they visit the museum.

“The new and improved plans bring the museum into the 21st Century and make good on our commitment to retain and improve the focus of the museum on applied arts and sciences.

“Importantly, in this modest revitalisation we are honouring the history of the museum by revealing the heritage elements of the original Ultimo Power Station buildings and refurbishing the Wran building to achieve greater museum functionality.”

Minister for Lands and Property Steve Kamper said:

“Releasing the design for revitalisation of the Powerhouse Museum Ultimo is a major milestone for the project and for the future of the museum.

“The design demonstrates how the museum will be revitalised, whilst maintaining the heritage and character of the buildings.

“We are confident we are providing what the community wants for the future of the museum and we are encouraging anyone interested to have their say.”

Powerhouse Museum Ultimo Chief Executive Lisa Havilah said:

“The design addresses specific community and stakeholder feedback through extending the lifespan of the built form, acknowledging and celebrating the social significance of the Wran Building, addressing circulation and legibility and improving sustainability.

“The revitalised Powerhouse Museum Ultimo will reopen with more and increased quality exhibition spaces. This will be achieved by decluttering the spaces, removing mezzanines allows full use of the spaces. This will restore and reveal the original heritage in the buildings and create high-quality flexible exhibition spaces.

“This revitalisation will celebrate the best of the museum’s past while adding new and enhanced exhibition and programming spaces, along with educational spaces for future generations to engage with the applied arts and sciences.”

/Public Release. View in full here.