The Powerhouse Museum’s current home in Ultimo, which was due to close to the public on July 1 before being sold to property developers and likely demolished, has been given a last-minute reprieve. NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian announced on July 4 that the Powerhouse would retain its building and would operate across two sites – its current Ultimo premises and the planned purpose-built museum in Parramatta, which is due to be completed by 2024.
The planned Parramatta space is not big enough to house the Powerhouse's entire collection, which would have meant some of the Powerhouse's many exhibitions and artifacts would have had to be given to other museums around the state.
The government had planned to sell off the Ultimo premises to property developers for an estimated $195 million, with funds from the sale going towards the building costs of the new museum. But because the Powerhouse is now keeping its Ultimo building, some of the money that had been earmarked for relocation to Parramatta will be used upgrading the Ultimo location.
Meanwhile, progress on the Parramatta development, which will receive $1.17 billion investment from the state government, has slowed to a crawl. Concerns over the new museum’s location on a floodplain and objections to the demolition of heritage-listed buildings and trees have prevented construction works from commencing.