2012-07-30

Access to the Unvisible - Powerhouse Museum's off-site collection storage facility

Like most museums, only a small part of the Powerhouse Museum collection in Sydney is exhibited at any one time. About 50,000 objects are stored at Castle Hill. Castle Hill is the Powerhouse Museums off-site collection storage facility. A new museum visitor experience model and program to increase public access to the Powerhouses Collection is being developed to officially open at the Castle Hill site in March 2007.
The nature of the site as a storage facility and the behind the scenes appeal of the visitor offering require a different approach to the traditional museum visitor experience that captures the rawness, directness and uniqueness of the visitors engagement with the site, the Collection and the objects.
The centrepiece of this new experience will be the Display Store which is designed to allow public access to a wide selection of large and small Collection objects and their histories. The Collection housed in other stores on the site will be publicly accessible through a program of guided group tours so that specific collections such as the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games Collection, musical instruments, chairs and furniture, printing presses and x-ray machines can be revealed. Transport is also a major aspect of the collection at Castle Hill and includes cars, buses, trams, planes, bicycles and motorcycles.
The diverse Collection also includes 19th century domestic appliances, Australian flora and fauna inspired glass, woodwork and textiles, objects that tell stories of Australias exploration of Antarctica, our aviation history through objects owned by Nancy Bird and Charles Kingsford Smith, and objects that tell stories of Australias Indigenous culture and history.
A diverse range of public access programs and activities at the Castle Hill site will engage visitors with the Powerhouses key areas of focus design, popular culture, science/sustainability, and the history of New South Wales. Programs will include supervised tours into the collection stores; major public events including open weekends and field days; tailored education programs for school-aged youth; school holiday programs; community engagement programs; regional partnership events; and specialist/industry and professional development programs.