The relocated Powerhouse Museum will be the centrepiece of a new arts and cultural precinct and include the country’s largest planetarium, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has announced.
The premier and Arts Minister Don Harwin on Saturday revealed plans for the museum’s controversial $645 million relocation to Parramatta from Ultimo.
A state government media release said the relocated museum would have more exhibition and public space, state-of-the-art exhibition halls and a 30-metre wide domed planetarium.
Mr Harwin called it a “spectacular drawcard for families, industry and educational institutions”.
Ms Berejiklian said the plan was a “clear demonstration” of the government’s commitment to western Sydney.
“It is so important that young people are excited and inspired by science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics because the jobs of tomorrow will rely heavily on these disciplines,” she said in a statement.
The Ultimo site will be home to a new design and fashion museum and a Broadway-style lyric theatre.
The Sydney Business Chamber said the move represented “cultural justice” for western Sydney and its two million residents.
“Our research has shown that people have a limit to how far they are willing to travel to access cultural institutions,” director David Borger said in a statement.
“Locating the Powerhouse Museum in Parramatta means western Sydney residents now have a museum to call their own.”
Parramatta Lord Mayor Andrew Wilson said the museum was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and expected people from all over Australia and the world to visit, boosting the economy.
However the Public Service Association was far less impressed, slamming the decision as another example of the government’s willingness to “tear down public amenities” to sell them to property developers.
PSA General Secretary Stewart Little said museum staff were “absolutely shattered”.
“Sydney will lose a unique museum where the very building itself is part of the attraction,” Mr Little said.
“A museum where priceless, unique exhibits have been built into the structure itself.”