Lionel Glendenning : Rally speech, Powerhouse Museum, 10 Dec 2016

Lionel Glendenning was one of eleven speakers at a further protest rally organised by the Save the Powerhouse lobby group held on the forecourt of the Powerhouse venue of the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences. They discussed a range of compelling arguments for keeping the Powerhouse Museum in Ultimo, while looking at better options for Parramatta and Western Sydney.
To see videos of speeches, see: 10-december-rally-speeches

Speech:
We live in biblical times.
Our politicians are having visions.
But are our Premier’s visions only ephemeral thought bubbles?

Advised by perfidious cultural outliers and supported by the dodgy brothers – accountancy firms, developer mates and property spivs, merchant bankers, large construction companies and sharp lawyers – creating a city nobody wants.

From the sale of government land held in trust for all – is sold to the highest bidder – asset stripping in anyone’s language.

Nothing is sacred – no heritage item – no cultural artefact – no arts institution is safe.

Now we have the sale of our finest museum, an internationally recognised cultural landmark, accessible to all, located perfectly in Ultimo for over 123 years – a paradigm that recycles the greatest power station of its age into a fine architectural award-winning building housing priceless objects.

The precious and priceless 1785 Boulton & Watt steam engine – the ‘Mona Lisa’ of the Industrial Revolution.

The Saturn rocket engine that took us to the moon.

The Catalina that flew non-stop to South America.

No 1 Locomotive – ironically the first train to Parramatta!

Australia’s greatest decorative arts and design collection.

I could go on…

Yet our Premier with a one line note in an Infrastructure NSW report and who knows what ‘Cabinet in confidence” deal proposes to destroy it all and move it to Parramatta.

This must end.

To steal our museum rather than build a new locally inspired purpose built cultural precinct at the Female Factory and Fleet St precinct at Parramatta – desperately in need of heritage preservation of the Greenway architectural legacies.

The people of Sydney must be listened to.

Wiser counsel must advise the Premier and Government that they are listening to the wrong people.

A lone cultural advisor and now a committee of silvertails.

A great city is as much its cultural icons as it is offices, apartments, retail malls, casinos and roads.

Sydney’s cultural crown of galleries and museums includes the extraordinary collections of the Powerhouse Museum displayed in the stupendous spaces of the 120year old Ultimo Power Station – an industrial icon of the age.

The PHM’s architectural and heritage value is recognised in the many state and national awards. The National Trust has sought heritage status for the Powerhouse Museum – a self evident truth.

A great city must have at its core its significant cultural icons. Our collective memories and cultural history are embodied in these great collections and architecture – it’s akin to a cultural lobotomy for us all to destroy the Ultimo Powerhouse Museum.

With over 40 million visitors to the obese Darling Harbour adjacent the PHM. Surely a large expansion of the exhibition spaces with – say a Planetarium is needed by the PHM – not more apartments.

A premier with a messiah complex – a nightmare not a dream.

This Premier’s outrageous move of the Powerhouse to Parramatta means every cultural institution can be now betrayed by the government without reference to the people or facts.

The philistines’ destruction of our heritage – cultural legacy and great collections are lost to the people who created them.

The Government has lost its way

NO to moving the Powerhouse Museum

YES to a revitalised Powerhouse Museum.

YES to a locally created cultural centre for Parramatta, a museum which is of and by the people of Western Sydney – for example – a Museum of NSW with themes evolved from the history and culture of this state.

We need a Trust which will fight for the existing 123 year old Ultimo Powerhouse museum.

We need a director with a commitment to the Ultimo Powerhouse Museum.

We need leadership, funding and a vision for the future of the Powerhouse Museum in Ultimo.

Lionel Glendenning
Architect of record, Powerhouse Museum
Life Fellow, Powerhouse Museum
10 Dec 2016