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This Is What the Relocated Powerhouse Museum Will Look Like in 2023

The Ultimo museum is moving to Parramatta — for the cool sum of $645 million.
By Samantha Teague
December 17, 2019
By Samantha Teague
December 17, 2019

Almost five years after the NSW Government first announced the Powerhouse Museum's potential move to Parramatta, the new Western Sydney museum's designs have been revealed.

Featuring rooftop greenery and two rectangular white towers, the winning design is a collaboration between French architect firm Moreau Kusunoki and Australia's Genton. It was chosen by an international jury from a pool of 74 designs, submitted from 20 different countries.

Set to be part of an expansive new 24-hour arts and cultural precinct beside the Parramatta River, Powerhouse Museum 2.0 already has a short history tarred by controversy. A 2017 parliamentary inquiry into the Ultimo museum's relocation labelled the move an "act of vandalism" and there has been community uproar about the decision to demolish two heritage-listed buildings to make space for the new museum.

While the Parramatta Museum will predominantly be built on the site of a disused car park, according to the ABC, an 1800s heritage villa and and St George's Terraces will also be razed for its construction. NSW's Shadow Minister for the Arts Walter Secord has also labelled the new design a "monstrosity on stilts".

Initial estimates for the museum's controversial relocation and construction have been set at around $645 million, although the SMH has reported that figure is more likely to be $1 billion.

Despite the controversy and hefty price tag, the government is forging ahead with the museum's relocation, which Minister for the Arts Don Harwin is calling "the largest investment in arts and cultural infrastructure since the Sydney Opera House". It'll be the first major NSW cultural institution based in Western Sydney, too, and it's hoped 60 on-site residential studios will attract leading scientific researchers from across the world.

When plans for the new museum were first announced last year, they included 18,000 square metres of exhibition and public spaces, dedicated play areas and education labs, state-of-the-art exhibition halls and the country's largest planetarium, clocking in at 30 metres wide. We're hoping the latter has made it into the new design.

The Powerhouse Museum isn't Sydney's only major arts organisation undergoing a major shakeup, either — the Australian Museum is in the midst of a $57.5 million revamp, and is set to reopen in mid-2020.

The Powerhouse Museum, at 500 Harris Street, Ultimo, will remain open to the public until June 30, 2020, with staged closures running thereafter. The new Parramatta museum is slated to open in 2023.

Published on December 17, 2019 by Samantha Teague
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