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Powerhouse Museum


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(established 1988)

In common with a number of other major museums the roots of the large‐scale Powerhouse Museum in Sydney, Australia, lay in a 19th‐century international exhibition—the Sydney International Exhibition of 1879. Many of the exhibits were purchased for the newly created Technological, Industrial and Sanitary Museum, although this was destroyed by fire in 1882. By 1893 the revivified enterprise had been renamed the Technological Museum and boasted a purpose‐built permanent building. Over the following decades, whilst the collection grew across a wide range of disciplines from the decorative arts to industrial products, the museum established a reputation as a scientific research centre until in 1945 it became the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences. New premises were needed for the growing collection, but it was not until 1979 that the government of New South Wales designated a decommissioned power station as its new premises. After an extensive redesign that was able to accommodate large‐scale products such as aeroplanes as well as provide lecture theatres, restaurants, and other ingredients of the late 20th‐century museum, the Powerhouse opened in March 1988. The museum has hosted many design exhibitions from overseas as well as from Australia itself. In 1992 it aligned itself with contemporary design initiatives when it began a series of annual ‘Selections’ from well‐designed products recognized in the Australian Design Award competition. In addition to the extensive collections that embrace design and the decorative arts (particularly over the past two centuries), industry, and technology, the museum has many important designrelated archives. These embrace the records of manufacturing industry, including the Martin Boyd Pottery, and the papers of contemporary Australian designers such as Gordon Andrews and Douglas Annand.

Subjects: Industrial and Commercial Art.


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