Powerhouse Museum is Sydney's ultimate geek-chic destination with a uniquely diverse collection celebrating history, science, technology, design, industry, creativity, decorative arts, music, transport, space exploration and Australian pop culture. Occupying the former 1890s Ultimo power station that fuelled Sydney's now-defunct electric tram system, the Powerhouse has an archive of over 500,000 items offering an insight into Aussie lifestyle, culture and achievements.
Opened in 1988, within the Powerhouse are such massive and priceless objects as the Catalina Flying Boat suspended from the ceiling and Boulton & Watt steam engine juxtaposed against the most delicate lace and precious ceramics. Spanning 20,000sqm across four levels, at a museum that celebrates the high-tech you'd expect a similarly high level of interactivity and the Powerhouse certainly doesn't disappoint. Kids old and young will love the hands-on gadgetry, stimulating displays and high-impact demonstrations. The permanent collection includes the Boulton & Watt steam engine - the world's oldest surviving example of a rotative steam engine and an entire floor of working steam engines; an interactive display on the past, present and future of computers; space modules; an insight into nuclear power, medicine and science through interactive displays; and the curious Strasburg Clock with moving biblical figures and intricate dials.
Some of the surprising subjects of recent Powerhouse exhibitions include examples of lace artworks from around the world; Muslim fashion and style in Australia; HIV and Aids in Australia; Aussie inventions; a display about Harry Potter; and brewing and pubs, which show the scope and diversity of this fascinating space. The museum runs a daily 45-minute Highlights Tour, as well as regular workshops and events, space talks and science activities for the kids. There's also free wi-fi and play spaces for the kids onsite. The Powerhouse Museum is currently undergoing a revitalisation project to improve some facilities and add an extra gallery for international exhibition and a new forecourt.
General admission for adults is AU$12, AU$6 for children aged four to 15 and free for under-fours. The closest rail station is Central Station in Sydney's CBD. From here, it's a 13-minute walk down George Streets and right onto Harris Street.