MAAS Timeline


1879 Sydney International Exhibition: Garden Palace, Royal Botanic Gardens lays the foundations for MAAS and its collections

1880 The Technological, Industrial and Sanitary Museum opens in Garden Palace with 10,000 exhibits

1882 Fire destroys the Garden Palace and most of its collections

1883 The Technological, Industrial and Sanitary Museum is reborn and the collections re-established

1893 The renamed Technological Museum opens in a new purpose designed building by the Government Architect W.E. Kemp, in Harris St Ultimo adjacent to Sydney Technical College   

1945 Museum of Technological Sciences

1950 Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences

1979 Government Architects Feasibility Study: proposes 3 museums: Science and Technology in the Ultimo Powerhouse; Decorative Arts in the Treasury Building; and Social History in the Trades Hall as part of the overall project to renew the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences

1981 – 1987 MAAS closes its branch museums at Albury, Goulburn, Bathurst and Broken Hill in order to focus on the Powerhouse project. The Maitland Branch was washed away in the 19XX flood.

1980 – 1989 The Museum Train takes exhibits and museum staff around New South Wales to reach regional audiences

1981 Stage 1 Powerhouse Museum project opens in the former Ultimo Tram Depot

1982 MAAS opens Mint Museum of Australian Decorative Arts and site interpretation

1982 Sydney Observatory transferred to the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences as a museum of astronomy, public observatory and historic site

1984 MAAS opens Hyde Park Barracks, Museum of NSW social history and site interpretation

1988 Powerhouse Museum opens in former Ultimo Powerhouse.; design wins the Sulman Award for architectural merit 

1990 Hyde Park Barracks transferred to Historic Houses Trust of NSW

1994 Mint Museum redeveloped with an Australian Gold and Silver theme

1997 Mint Museum transferred to Historic Houses Trust of NSW

2000 Powerhouse Museum launched its Regional Services for NSW community and regional museums and galleries, historical societies etc

2003 Migration Heritage Centre NSW transferred to Powerhouse Museum from Premiers Department

2005 Powerhouse Discovery Centre opens at Castle Hill as a publicly accessible store for the museum’s off-site collection

2014 Premier Mike Baird announces the Powerhouse Museum will move to Parramatta

2015 The National Trust of Australia (NSW) opposes the sale and redevelopment of the Powerhouse Museum site, while supporting the creation of a new museum in Parramatta

2016 Open letter headed ‘Please Don’t Destroy the Powerhouse’ published in the Sydney Morning Herald, signed by 178 prominent citizens and organisations, opposing the closure of the Powerhouse Museum at Ultimo, while supporting a new museum in Parramatta

2016 NSW Parliamentary debate prompted by 10,000 signatures opposing the closure and sale of the museum at Ultimo, while supporting the expansion of museum services across NSW

2016 After evaluating two sites, the NSW Government announces the Powerhouse Museum will move to the old DJs carpark site on the Parramatta River

2016 The Powerhouse Discovery Centre due to reopen as a shared publicly accessible store including off site collections held in trust by the Australian Museum and, Sydney Living Museums – formerly the Historic Houses Trust of NSW

Follow the news stories about the Powerhouse to Parramatta debate here.

Jennifer Sanders April 2015