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Sydney's best art galleries and museums are set to stay open late all summer long

Sydney takes its first steps towards becoming a 24-hour city

Divya Venkataraman

If you're not tempted by an adult beverage and you've had your fill of the city's dining scene, you can sometimes feel at a loose end on a night out in Sydney's CBD. Now, there's another way to make the most of the city after dark.

This summer, the NSW government has committed $1.47 million to enable some of the city's top cultural institutions to stay open for at least one weeknight through till 9pm. Cultural hubs that have gotten on board include the Art Gallery of New South Wales, the Museum of Contemporary Art and the Australian Museum. 

It's not just extended opening hours, either. The venues will be providing a little late night spice to the mix: the Australian Museum will have DJs, a pop-up bar and snacks while it's open late on Thursdays until the end of March, while the MCA will allow visitors to stream in on Fridays until 9pm for those wanting an early start to a culture-filled weekend. Other venues open late will include the Art Gallery of New South Wales (Wednesdays, 5-9pm), the Powerhouse Museum (Thursday, 5-9pm), the State Library of NSW (Wednesdays and Thursdays, 5-8pm), the Sydney Living Museums (Wednesdays, 5-8pm), and the Sydney Opera House which will add new, late-night programming and night tours to its roster. 

Dubbed the Culture Up Late initiative, it was launched by the treasurer Dominic Perrottet and arts minister Don Harwin at the newly renovated Australian Museum on Wednesday, December 16.

“Sydney’s city centre has been one of the biggest casualties of the pandemic, but as the weather warms up and more people start to get out and about, Culture Up Late will give Sydneysiders the opportunity to visit exhibitions straight after work, well beyond the standard closing time," said Perrottet in a statement. 

“It’s been a tough year, and I encourage anyone who can, to get out and immerse yourself each week this summer in all that the country’s largest arts and cultural institutions have to offer."

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