The Powerhouse Museum's Ultimo Site Is Getting a $500 Million Revamp

A renewed focus on design and fashion will see new creative studios, exhibitions and increased public spaces at Ultimo.
Ben Hansen
Published on June 17, 2021

A year after scrapping plans to close down the Powerhouse Museum's Ultimo home, the NSW Government is set to invest between $480—500 million to revamp and revitalise the museum's inner city location. A renewed focus on design and fashion is central to the multimillion-dollar overhaul, with plans to bring the Powerhouse's local and international exhibitions to the forefront of its event programming.

Plans for the Ultimo site also include increased opportunities for creative development with subsidised studios and workspaces for creatives. Under the renewal project, over 5000 dedicated design and fashion study spots for regional and remote NSW students is also promised.

Increasing accessibility by creating more urban connections between the Powerhouse, the Goods Line and surrounding inner city precincts is also planned.

"We will create a vibrant public square beside the Goods Line, and creative industries workspaces that will become home for Australian designers," Powerhouse Chief Executive Lisa Havilah said in a media statement.

Powerhouse Ultimo, Dan Boud

In contrast to the Ultimo museum's dedication to design and fashion, the Parramatta site will focus more heavily on science and technology.

"This renewal will pave the way for generations to come to experience even more of our 500,000 strong Collection through Australia's leading museum of design and fashion in Ultimo and the new home of science and technology at our flagship, Powerhouse Parramatta," Powerhouse Museum Trust President Peter Collins AM QC said.

Back in 2015, the NSW Government, led by Mike Baird at the time, announced it would be relocating the Powerhouse to Parramatta in order to broaden the reach of Sydney's cultural institutions in Western Sydney. A wave of backlash followed the announcement that included protests surrounding the destruction of the Ultimo site, criticism of the Parramatta site planning which would impact several historic buildings and claims the museum would be subject to flooding.

A timeline around the redevelopment of Powerhouse Ultimo is yet to be laid out, with planning on a design competition commencing now. The Parramatta Powerhouse museum has officially been given approval as of February and is slated to open in 2023.

Powerhouse Up Late, Jordan Munns

Powerhouse Museum Ultimo is located at 500 Harris St, Ultimo.

Published on June 17, 2021 by Ben Hansen
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