Public anger forces Powerhouse move backdown

March 17, 2017
Sydney's Powerhouse Museum will not be moved. But will Western Sydney get theirs?

Widespread community opposition has reportedly pushed the NSW Coalition government to prepare to back down on its plan to move the iconic Powerhouse Museum in Ultimo westward to Parramatta.

The Inner West Courier reported on March 7: "Well-placed sources revealed last week the government believes taking down the current Powerhouse and selling the land to developers is so unpopular that it has decided to can the move."

The cost of closing the current museum and transferring it to Parramatta is estimated at more than $1 billion. To set up and construct a separate museum on the Parramatta River site has been projected to cost only $400 million.

A public campaign against the move and sale of the museum drew widespread community support, as well as statements of opposition from many prominent figures in the arts and other sectors of Sydney society.

Balmain state Greens MP Jamie Parker agreed the proposed move was not viable. “Reports in the media suggested this figure could go as high as $2 billion in 2024 money to move the museum 20km,” he said. “Any fair-minded person would see that this is a colossal waste of money that cannot proceed.

"The community feels that to convert their much-loved and iconic Powerhouse building into yet more high-rise profit boxes is cultural vandalism.”

Parker supported the idea of building a branch of the Powerhouse in Parramatta for “some of the Powerhouse’s enormous collection of exhibits, currently held in storage”.

“Like all the great museums in the world, there could be several branches of the Powerhouse in the City of Sydney as well as Western Sydney. The Tate has four museums in the United Kingdom, and the Smithsonian in the US has 19 museums and galleries.

“The type of museum that is built in Parramatta is a question for the people of Parramatta to decide. Many people I've spoken to want Western Sydney to have a museum of its own that reflects the rich culture and history of the area, rather than simply having the Powerhouse Museum transplanted there.

“The people of our area want the current Powerhouse Museum to stay on its site in Ultimo. They want the government to reconsider the move, and to consult with the people of Western Sydney to establish a museum that reflects the unique history and spirit of that community.”

[For more information on the campaign visit the Save the Powerhouse Facebook page.]

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