Like many countries in the world Australians love museums. We identify strongly with our own iconic artefacts such as the stuffed carcass of Phar Lap and embrace the historic touring collections such as the recently announced King Tut extravaganza for the Australian Museum. When the State Government announced that the Powerhouse Museum is to be shunted to Parramatta, there was an understandable outcry at what looks like another potential grand bungle – on par with the decision to build the ill fated Sydney Monorail.
Whether there is a last minute switch of mind to move the Powerhouse or a change of government that reverses this madness, it remains to be seen. The whole sorry saga is worthy of a movie script, perhaps a shameless steal from the Night At The Museum franchise. The star of this appropriation would certainly be the amazing Transparent Woman, the first transparent anatomical model of a woman ever to be exhibited in Australia and a long time Powerhouse favourite. Ironically the last thing the State Government has been with their plans for the relocation is ‘transparent’.
Okay – let’s call her Tess (aka ‘Tess The Transparent’) and throw up a scenario to which any budding young filmmaker is welcome. The Powerhouse Museum is all but packed up and ready to be reassembled at Parra but the final inventory reveals that the much prized transparent woman is missing. A check of security cameras soon shows that she has miraculously sprung to life and fled the old Ultimo HQ late at night – obviously not all that keen on being relocated to a holding warehouse whilst the new Museum takes an eternity to be built.
The police are notified, the media run amok and there are sightings all over Sydney. The State Government immediately offer a $500,000 reward for the safe return of Tess although there is a growing movement in favour of her never being recaptured. The Premier doubles the reward to over one million dollars as well as a free family pass to the new Museum (when it’s finally finished) but a protest group smuggle a fully dressed Tess out of the country, finally finding temporary sanctuary in Ecuador.
After three years in exile Tess The Transparent begins to pine for some of her favourite exhibit pals at the old Powerhouse like the Strasbourg Clock and Harry’s Café De Wheels. She decides to return to Australia and reluctantly agrees to be reinstated at the new Museum in Parra (still a giant hole in the ground alongside the banks of the river).
She arrives at Sydney airport without a proper visa and is immediately sent to the Villawood detention centre. From there she is transferred to Nauru and then Manus Island and told by a defiant Peter Dutton that she will never return to Australia. Her electronics begin to rust in the harsh tropical atmosphere and there are fears she won’t survive.
Mercifully both the State and Federal Governments are demolished at the next election, the Powerhouse Museum remains at Ultimo and the amazing Transparent Woman returns to her rightful place, celebrating with an imaginary pie and peas at Harry’s Café De Wheels. You can at least fantasise!