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Journey through Sydney Opera House's history without leaving your desk

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Written by
Emma Joyce
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Relive your favourite memories or time travel back to the grand opening of Sydney’s globally recognised cultural building with a few simple clicks

Thanks to a new partnership between Sydney Opera House and the Google Cultural Institute, it’s now possible to access more than 1,000 digital artefacts that celebrate 60 years of history on and off stage – such as architectural drawings by Jørn Utzon and Erik Andersson from 1956 to colour photographs taken at the opening ceremony in 1973. 

People around the world can explore the living history of the House through a 360-degree virtual tour of the building. The eight-minute video starts at sunrise, set to music from soprano Nicole Car and cellist Benjamin Schwartz from the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, and ends after dark with audiences spilling out of the building and ferries moving by in the harbour.

Queen Elizabeth II at the Grand Opening of Sydney Opera House in 1973

Queen Elizabeth II at the Grand Opening in 1973Photograph: Leo Davis Collection

You’ll find photos of Prince performing on the Concert Hall stage in February 2016, two months before he passed away. There’s a video of Stephen Hawking talking about boy band One Direction, Nigella in conversation with Annabel Crabb, Nelson Mandela pictured giving a speech on the steps in 1990 and Sammy Davis Jr on stage in 1977. Plus, there are pics of a young Queen Elizabeth II with Price Phillip at the grand opening of Sydney Opera House in 1973.

It took over six months to create the online collection, which involved delving into the archives from Sydney Opera House, including the Wolanski Archive Collection, plus material from the State Library and the ABC. To take a look for yourself, visit Google Cultural Institute. Be warned: you could lose hours exploring this iconic building’s past. 

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