City News

Powerhouse may remain in Ultimo after all

The Powerhouse Museum may remain at Ultimo. Credit: Jamie Parker

BY ALEX EUGENE

 

Protestors who have been rallying to save the Powerhouse Museum from being relocated to Western Sydney could emerge victorious this week.

 

Channel 9 News reported on Tuesday night that plans had been canned to relocate the cultural icon to Parramatta. Instead, the government will apparently fund an extra branch of the museum at the site, to be known as the Western Sydney Powerhouse Museum. The project is expected to cost around $500 million.

 

But a spokesperson for the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences would not confirm that the plans were definite, and refused to comment when contacted by City Hub.

 

The Baird Government announced in 2015 that the Powerhouse Museum would be relocated to Parramatta, which immediately enraged community members. They were quick to assemble an advocate group known as Save the Powerhouse, who over time gained almost 4000 supporters and have relentlessly lobbied to stop the relocation of the historic venue.

 

But the news about halting the relocation did not escape the group’s scrutiny, who announced via social media that the change of plans still short-changed Sydneysiders. The group alleged that the building of the new Western Sydney Powerhouse would stamp out much-needed plans to re-invigorate a nearby Parramatta district.

 

The Cumberland Hospital precinct was slated to receive a new “cultural complex”, which could now be off the table after the museum plans changed.

 

“This is far from a “win” for Parramatta, where hopes for a new cultural complex in the Cumberland Hospital precinct were dashed last week at the Parramatta Council meeting. The only hope now is that an independent Council will be elected in September, which will seek to overturn the Administrator’s decision,” said a spokesperson for the group on social media.

 

“The fight to ‘Save the Powerhouse’ has partially succeeded, although we need far more detail,” they said.

 

Jamie Parker, Greens MP for Balmain said that overall, the new project was a win for Ultimo residents.

 

“Western Sydney deserves an iconic cultural facility that reflects the spirit of that region without selling off the Powerhouse in Ultimo. This has always been about a real estate deal to generate cash for the government rather than a considered cultural investment in Western Sydney,” he said.

 

“This is far from a “win” for Parramatta, where hopes for a new cultural complex in the Cumberland Hospital precinct were dashed last week at the Parramatta Council meeting. The only hope now is that an independent Council will be elected in September, which will seek to overturn the Administrator’s decision,” said a spokesperson for the group on social media.

 

Lindsay Sharp, the founding director of the Powerhouse Museum, said he wasn’t cracking open the champagne yet.

“This is no great step forward. This planning is an absolute mess. We support the building of a museum at Parramatta, but it is all being driven by the wrong reasons,”he said.

Mr Sharp said just because the museum would not be relocated was no guarantee that it might not be “flogged off” in the future.

 

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