Royal Society NSW: ‘From the President – Moving the Powerhouse Museum’

28 September, 2018
‘From the President – Moving the Powerhouse Museum’
President of the Royal Society of New South Wales, Ian Sloane, wrote to members in their September Bulletin:
‘I want to share with you the fact that the Council of your Society has resolved to oppose the relocation of the Powerhouse Museum from Ultimo to Parramatta, believing that its historical links to Ultimo are of great importance, not to mention that it would be a colossal waste of money. Rather, it wants to see the Powerhouse Museum properly refurbished, and an outstanding new museum established in Parramatta. As a result of this decision, and with the help of former President Don Hector and modern technology, I wrote 134 individual letters to every member of the NSW Parliament, in both the Lower and Upper Houses. Here is a sample:
Dear Ms ….,
The Council of the Royal Society of New South Wales, Australia’s oldest scientific and cultural institution, wishes to express its strong opposition to the decision to move the Powerhouse Museum to Parramatta. At the same time, it wants to emphasise that it strongly supports the vision of an outstanding new museum in Western Sydney – it is the moving of the existing Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences that is opposed. The Powerhouse’s links to the Ultimo precinct are of fundamental historical importance to the development of the Australian economy and the Museum is, and should be, a major drawcard for overseas visitors. If the Museum has been allowed to run down then the solution is not removal, but rather a Government commitment to renewal of the present Museum. And moving the Museum’s many heavy exhibits is surely a great waste of public money. While the nature of a major new museum in Western Sydney should be very much in the hands of the region, the Council of the RSNSW is interested to contribute to the discussion. An exciting possibility is a new museum of science and technology at Parramatta with a special focus – a museum that differs from that of the Powerhouse at UItimo but is not of lower status, just as the various Smithsonian Museums in Washington DC are not of different standing. But the immediate need is to stop the tragic, irreversible destruction of the Powerhouse Museum at Ultimo. Etc.
Another kind of museum for the Western Suburbs that would find strong support in Council is an Australian Museum of the First Peoples, if that should be the wish of Indigenous groups. Council has been following up in various ways, including interacting with individual parliamentarians. I hope that our Members and Fellows agree with Council on the decision and the actions taken. I welcome your feedback.’
Ian H. Sloan AO FAA FRSN
President, Royal Society of New South Wales.