Director’s Vision 2014

Director's Vision 2014

Rose Hiscock

My vision for the Powerhouse is: to be the world's leading museum of science and design, acclaimed internationally and loved locally.

A great collection provides the foundation for a great museum. The Powerhouse Museum is built on such a foundation, however it must capitalise on the opportunity. To achieve audience and critical acclaim, the Powerhouse Museum, and its network of venues and collections, must be alive and dynamic.

As Director I am committed to a process of transformation. The organisation will be outward focussed – providing compelling reasons for audiences to engage online, through new media, visitation, knowledge and thought leadership.

We will build long term relationships with partners and supporters to ensure sustainability and diversified funding streams. We will use international networks to deliver great exhibitions and economic return to New South Wales.

The broad subjects of Science and Applied Arts will be brought to life through themes such as 'curiosity' for science and 'creativity' for applied arts. A collections focussed approach will be transformed to content creation and dissemination enabling the Powerhouse and its network of venues to become a hub for new media, remote learning and ingenuity.

As Director I will ensure the Powerhouse Museum is positioned internationally as an acclaimed and innovative museum of science and design and locally as a thriving hub for curiosity and creativity.

Our Museum
The Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences was established in 1879 and currently comprises the Powerhouse Museum, Sydney Observatory and the Powerhouse Discovery Centre (collection stores at Castle Hill).

The organisation has more than 200 staff, plus more than 350 volunteers.
The Museum is acknowledged internationally for the calibre of its collection, scholarship and exhibitions. The collection spans history, science, technology, design, industry, decorative arts, music, transport and space exploration. It is also home to the material heritage and stories of Australian culture, history and lifestyle, providing a comprehensive insight into this rich and diverse country. There is estimated to be well over 500,000 separate items in the Museum's collection.

The program of temporary exhibitions and programs complements a range of permanent galleries. Learning and creativity are a strong focus of the Museum. Exhibitions and programs are based on the ideas and technologies that have changed our world, and the stories of the people who create and inspire them.

Our city
By 2035, the population of NSW will be 9.1million. Western Sydney, with a population of 2.4million, will remain the city's geographic and demographic centre. Sydney's status as a global city will be increasingly important through the growing focus on Asia, our trade relationships, knowledge sector, linguistically diverse community, and tourism.

During this time, the plans for the renewal of two major city precincts, Darling Harbour, the expansion of the adjacent University of Technology Sydney (UTS), the NSW Government and City of Sydney Cultural Policies will enliven the city, and the Darling Harbour / Powerhouse precinct. New forms of media will emerge with new devices, networks and platforms. Our economy will remain central to public policy.

This is an exciting time for NSW and the Powerhouse Museum.

  • The Powerhouse Museum must capitalise on dynamic Sydney, using its network of venues and new forms of media to attract new audiences.
  • Partnerships must build across Government, philanthropic, private, corporate, education, and media sectors. 
  • Global relationships and opportunities must be nurtured.
  • New technology must be integrated and embraced.
  • The Powerhouse Museum must attract the best staff and be a sector leader.

Our road map
1 Strategic and Master Plans

A five-year strategic plan lays the ground for a renewed Powerhouse Museum. The Strategic Plan articulates our Mission, Vision and Values vision. And can be accessed at

A Master Plan will be completed by late 2014 to articulate the future use of the Museum's buildings and spaces.

2 Building engagement and profile
Building engagement and profile must start with the audience. Global audiences must be considered by segment – such as lifestyle stage, motivations, barriers, drivers and demographics. This information is critical to all planning

A brand strategy is in development to articulate the positioning, brand values and visual identity for the Powerhouse's network of venues.

An engagement strategy will include; a ten-year exhibition plan (temporary and permanent), the public program and learning strategies, the online strategy and a building Master Plan. The engagement strategy will draw heavily on new media and forms for engagement beyond a physical visit.

3 Sustainable Museum

An outward focussed Powerhouse Museum must build relationships and opportunities across multiple stakeholders, partners and funding sources. The development strategy will identify diversified government support, as well corporate, in kind, philanthropic, grants and private support. The commercial strategy will identify opportunities for increasing yield and income streams. The work force plan will identify the talent for the future.

A generation inspired by curiosity and creativity

  • Audiences will be built through online channels and new technology platforms, strategically focussed exhibitions, public programs, partnerships and strong education programs.
  • Knowledge will be transferred through content, collections, education platforms, thought leadership, new technology and professional development.
  • Global engagement will be strengthened through international profile, new media, and partnerships focussing on gateways between Europe and Asia.
  • Sustainability will be built via a diversified funding base, sponsorship, and philanthropic and commercial return.
  • Economic and social return will be demonstrated through participation on and off line, social inclusion and economic return to the state.

Our Collections
The collection was first established in 1879, linked to the Sydney International Exhibition, which showcased the wonders of the industrial age. While the collection has a strong focus on materials made or used in Australia, it is international in its scope and aims to place Australian material culture in an international context.

The collection includes objects relating to:
Art and design
Space and transport (including automobiles)
Models and machinery
Computers, popular culture and musical instruments
Fashion and accessories (including a superb shoe collection)
Graphic design and photography
Social history and performing arts
Jewellery, glass, metalwork and ceramics
Textiles and lace
Science and agricultural equipment
Power technologies
Natural materials
Domestic technology
Asian decorative arts and design

Our precincts - part of Sydney's renewal
The Powerhouse Museum is part of a dynamic and rapidly changing educational and cultural precinct, which includes the University of Technology Sydney (UTS), Sydney Institute of TAFE and the national headquarters of the ABC. UTS is currently undertaking the largest building expansion program underway at an Australian University. Australian and international architects are creating outstanding buildings, which include the Frank Gehry designed Business School adjacent to the Museum.

The redevelopment of Darling Harbour and Haymarket provides opportunities for the Powerhouse to more effectively engage with the business, entertainment and residential life of these new communities

A larger proportion of Sydney's creative industries practitioners and start ups are also located in the precinct, and adjacent inner city suburbs.

Sydney Observatory, and the historic Observatory Hill and Millers Point communities, are adjacent to Barangaroo, the largest renewal project to be undertaken in Sydney this century. By 2020, 23,000 people will live and work in the precinct, and pedestrian and cycle connections will introduce new audiences to its adjacent historic neighbourhoods.

The Powerhouse Discovery Centre: Collection Stores at Castle Hill will benefit from the construction of the NorthWest Rail link, and for the first time provide convenient public transport access for the wider Sydney community to the Museum's publicly accessible storage facility.

International Reach and Reputation
The Museum seeks to position itself internationally as an acclaimed and innovative museum of science and design.

We will build partnerships with the dynamic and rapidly changing cultures of Asia and the Pacific, and the museums, galleries and public institutions of Europe and the Americas which hold the history of western culture.

Rose Hiscock