The Powerhouse Museum is situated in the old Ultimo Power Station building, just a short walk from Darling Harbour. It’s the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences’ main venue (aside from the historic Sydney Observatory), with outstanding collections that span science, technology, communication, transport, furniture, media, fashion and contemporary culture.
While the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences has been in existence for more than 125 years, its Powerhouse Museum opened its doors in 1988. It’s set within what was an early 20th-century electric tram power station and has given this Sydney landmark a new lease on life.
The museum is set across 12 permanent exhibitions and a range of temporary displays, including the oldest operational rotative steam engine in the world, the Whitbread Engine. It was built in 1785 by Boulton and Watt and was acquired from Whitbread's London Brewery in 1888.
The museum is also home to the first steam locomotive to haul a passenger train in New South Wales and the Strasbourg Clock Model that was built by local watchmaker Richard Smith in 1887. It was based on the famous astronomical clock in Strasbourg Cathedral, with its functions built solely from a pamphlet.
In addition to its Ultimo branch, much of the museum’s extensive collection is displayed at the Powerhouse Discovery Centre at Castle Hill. The facility consists of seven massive sheds and showcases some impressive transport-related artifacts. These include the mast of Nelson’s HMS Victory, which was used at the Battle of Trafalgar, and the spare wheel from the car Donald Campbell was driving when he broke the world land speed record in the 1960s on Lake Eyre.