Learn more about:
Project Status
The New Museum location
The MAAS Project management
The MAAS Project community consultation
The MAAS Collection

Project Status

What is the NSW Government’s position?

The NSW Government will build a new flagship MAAS campus in Parramatta on the Riverbank site. The New Museum will be at the cutting edge of science and innovation, and will be a drawcard for domestic and international visitors.

In July 2017, the Government has secured a site for the new flagship Museum in Western Sydney, and has committed to building a new headquarters for MAAS on that site.

The Extended Business Case that commenced in April 2017 to explore further options for the Ultimo site will be completed by the end of 2017.

The Government has received the Extended Final Business Case, which is currently undergoing final review and peer assessment procedures. The EFBC will shortly proceed to Infrastructure NSW Assurance Process (Gateway Review) and then be considered by Cabinet Infrastructure Committee and Expenditure Review Committee prior to a final investment decision in early 2018.

The Business case has been informed by stakeholder meetings, detailed technical advice, and an established Expert Advisory Panel of world museum experts to provide holistic and diverse perspectives.

While planning progresses, it is ‘business as usual’ at the three MAAS venues, the Powerhouse Museum, Sydney Observatory and the Museums Discovery Centre and we invite all members of the community to visit us. Find out what’s on.

Museum and Gallery Inquiry

The Museum and Galleries Inquiry has been underway since 23 June 2016 and have most recently extended their reporting date to March 2018. The MAAS Project continues on schedule to deliver the Extended Final Business Case by the end of 2017. Comments from the Committee reported after the filing of the Extended Business Case cannot be taken into consideration in this planning stage of the project.

The New Museum Location

What is the New Museum in Western Sydney?

The NSW Government is committed to establishing a new flagship campus for the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences (MAAS) in Western Sydney. The New Museum will be the anchor for an arts and cultural precinct in Western Sydney – the State’s fastest growing and most diverse region, and will be on the cutting edge of science and technology. To deliver the best possible museum, a business case has been established to ensure all possible options are investigated, tested and analysed.

Where will the New Museum be located?

The New Museum will be provisionally located on the Riverbank site in Parramatta, offering considerable economic growth and cultural access to the people of New South Wales.

The site is on the Parramatta River, at the intersection of Philip St and Wilde Avenue. It is currently occupied by a series of buildings including the Riverbank Carpark.

On 31 July 2017, the NSW Government reached an agreement with the City of Parramatta Council, with a $140 million in-principle agreement to establish a vibrant cultural hub in Parramatta, with connections throughout Western Sydney and beyond.

What will the New Museum be called?

There is no final decision on the name for the museum in Parramatta and we are using the name New Museum as a working title.

Is there a risk of flooding at the provisional location on the banks of the Parramatta River?

Engineering studies have been undertaken as part of the planning process to address the potential for flooding on the site. The extended business case will be informed by the study’s findings, and the safety of the MAAS collection will be the key consideration of all planning decisions.

Museums across the world are built in locations which are considered ‘at risk’. For example, New Zealand’s National Museum, Te Papa, located on the Wellington waterfront, is designed to survive earthquakes as well as associated tsunamis. The flooding in 2011 in Brisbane showed the riverside Gallery of Modern Art and the Queensland State Library were adequately designed to manage flood events without endangering their collections.

Appropriate design and engineering measures will be put in place to ensure the sustainability of the New Museum and protect the MAAS collection.

When will the New Museum in Western Sydney be built?

The New Museum in Western Sydney is projected to open in 2022. In the meantime, explore the MAAS collection at one of the three venues across Sydney. Find out what’s on.

How will the New Museum be relevant to the people of Western Sydney?

MAAS has already established partnerships and programs in Western Sydney, and the work of the Museum reflects communities, ideas and innovations from across NSW and around the world. Ongoing community consultation will ensure the input of these communities is recognised in the planning of the New Museum.

How will the New Museum link to existing Western Sydney arts and cultural facilities?

The project team is working closely with the City of Parramatta Council to ensure that the New Museum forms part of a vibrant arts and cultural precinct, an anchor for the region and delivers a cohesive rejuvenation of the central business district as well. The Council shares our commitment to the project; it features prominently in their new cultural strategy.

Is the Powerhouse Museum closed?

The Powerhouse Museum remains open, and will continue to operate in Ultimo for many years yet. World premiere exhibitions and vibrant programming are planned through until early 2020.

Has the Powerhouse Museum Ultimo site already been sold?

No. The Ultimo site is in the ownership of the MAAS Trustees.

Further, NSW Government, through the development of the extended business case, is investigating all options, including the potential for an arts and cultural space in Ultimo that includes consideration of keeping some MAAS presence at the Powerhouse Museum site.

The MAAS Project Management

What is a business case?

Large scale investment projects such as this are subject to an assurance and business case process, to enable the NSW Government to thoroughly investigate the costs and benefits of all options.

The business case process tests the economic and cultural fundamentals of the MAAS Project – both the cost to government, and the long-term impacts on the Museum.

This includes works across geotechnical, contamination, hydrology, transport, engineering, heritage, audience demand, financial and economic analysis along with concept designs, commercial, capital and operational models. It also covers procurement planning, change management, stakeholder engagement, governance, risk management, benefits realisation, commissioning and launch planning, collections relocation logistics, ongoing management and associated workforce and resourcing plans.

The NSW Government has asked the MAAS Project team to look at options for the Parramatta and Ultimo sites, including commercial options.

Community consultation is an important part of helping to inform the development of the extended business case.

What commitments has the NSW Government made?

The NSW Government remains committed to growing the arts and cultural sector in Western Sydney and across the state – this includes establishing a world class institution in Sydney’s Central City – Parramatta.

As is standard with a major cultural infrastructure project, the planning process will investigate several options for the NSW Government’s consideration, including the establishment of an iconic museum for Western Sydney, located in Parramatta.

In April 2017, the Minister for the Arts Don Harwin announced that the development of the final business case had been extended to allow consideration of additional options for the arts and cultural institution in Western Sydney, as well as an arts and cultural space that considers keeping some MAAS presence at the current Ultimo site.

When are we expecting a decision?

The extended business case is due for completion in late 2017.

How much will the MAAS project cost?

The extended business case will explore a range of opportunities to fund the establishment of a New Museum in Western Sydney and arts and cultural space in Ultimo. Funding for both sites must consider both upfront costs for its delivery, but also recurrent costs to support its ongoing operation.

What are the benefits for the NSW community? What are the benefits for the state’s arts and cultural sector?

A diverse arts and cultural environment with facilities that everybody can enjoy is critical for a vibrant and creative NSW. It will contribute to our understanding of ourselves in the world, provide opportunities for learning, boost the growth of our creative industries and help to develop new audiences.

The NSW Government recognises the significant role cultural infrastructure plays so all communities across NSW have access to participate in and enjoy the State’s dynamic and vibrant arts and cultural sector.

The New Museum in Western Sydney could deliver world-class opportunities for education and research, alongside exhibition space, and space for social and digital interaction and exchange.

The New Museum will boost economic growth in the region, creating new jobs and partnership opportunities.

Arts and culture are key contributors to our economy, with the ABS estimating key cultural and arts sectors contributing over $4.5 billion annually to the NSW economy. A diverse arts and cultural sector is essential for a vibrant and strong economy, and makes NSW an even better place to live, work and visit.

The MAAS Project Community Consultation

How can I have my say?

To truly reflect the vibrancy and diversity of Western Sydney, the NSW Government wants to ensure the New Museum is designed with input from the people of Western Sydney and beyond.

It’s also important the community is involved in the conversation about the potential for an arts and cultural space that includes consideration of some MAAS presence at the current Ultimo site.

There will be a range of opportunities during the life of the MAAS project for the community and stakeholders to have their say.

Most recently community consultation considered what people wanted to see, do and experience at the New Museum and Ultimo site and will be considered in the development of the extended business case due by the end of 2017.

To keep up to date with future consultation activities in 2018, register your interest.

Are experts being consulted?

The NSW Government is working closely with the MAAS Board and Executive team to deliver the MAAS Project. The project has established an Expert Advisory Panel of world museum experts to provide holistic and diverse perspectives for objectives and goals.

The MAAS Collection

How will you ensure the ongoing safe care of the MAAS collection?

MAAS takes its responsibility regarding the collection and its care very seriously. We have extensive experience transporting collection objects, basically on a daily basis, and we have some of the country’s most senior and experienced registrars and conservators on staff.

Detailed planning will be undertaken to ensure that all collection objects required to be moved are safely and securely transported.

The Museum first moved from The Agricultural Hall in the Botanic Gardens to Harris Street in 1893 and from there to the Powerhouse Museum in two stages during the 1980s with the second and final stage of the Museum being opened on 10 May 1988. Prior to 1981 MAAS maintained a branch museum system so items were regularly moved between sites. Leased off-site storage was also used from 1951 with the first facility being a former wool store building at Alexandria. Our main storage facility is now based in Castle Hill, and we regularly move the collection between these sites.

Are items from the Collection currently being moved in advance of the decision?

No. MAAS moves on average just under 30 000 objects a year. The MAAS Collection on display regularly changes for new exhibitions and travels between venues or for exhibitions in regional NSW and internationally. MAAS proudly supports and often spearheads many festivals and significant programs which span the key disciplines within the applied arts and sciences. It is not unprecedented for collection items to be taken off display to showcase new or never seen works to visitors.

How will the larger or more fragile items in the MAAS collection be moved?

The MAAS Strategic Collections team, comprising registrars and conservators undertake detailed planning and preparation to ensure the safety of the MAAS collection during any move. The team has extensive professional experience and a wealth of knowledge of the collection and are best placed to understand the requirements of both specific objects and the MAAS collection as a whole.

Throughout 2016-17 this team made over 55,000 object movements, including moving some of the most valuable and delicate objects , both between MAAS venues and as loans to institutions around the world, such as buses, aircraft, steam rollers and items from Australia’s significant collection of fashion garments.

What happens to your Castle Hill site?

The Museums Discovery Centre re-opened in September 2016. Newly expanded, this facility is shared with the Australian Museum and Sydney Living Museums and provides both collection care and storage as well as visible stores and public programs. We will continue to exhibit our collection across Sydney Observatory, Museums Discovery Centre and Powerhouse Museum.