The Museum of Sydney explores the people and events that have shaped the city, built on the ruins of the house of New South Wales' first Governor, Arthur Phillip. Remnants of the original 1788 building, such as drains and privies, can still be glimpsed today through glass openings in the museum’s forecourt and foyer, retaining what is a significant and symbolic site for the city.
Australia’s first Government House served as the social, ceremonial and political heart of the New South Wales colony during its initial years and the focal point of the first contact between the indigenous Gadigal people and the colonizing British. It was demolished in 1846, but its foundations were exposed by archaeologists in 1983 and the modern museum constructed ten years later.
The Museum of Sydney showcases the city’s colonial and contemporary history through artifacts, paintings and photographs, as well as new digital media. A giant video screen spans the height of the building and details the physical changes that have taken place in the city, while there are panoramic views across its modern landscape.
Learn about Sydney’s early convict days with an impressive collection of belongings and witness the “Edge of the Trees” sculpture by Fiona Foley and Janet Laurence that symbolizes the first encounter between the indigenous Gadigal people and the officers of the First Fleet. There’s also a famous painting by Gordon Bennett, “Possession Island”, in the foyer that offers a different perspective on the European story of colonization, as well as a range of changing exhibitions and events that take place throughout the year.
The Museum of Sydney can be accessed via First Government House Place in Bridge Street, with the outline of the first Government House marked out on the plaza by inlaid stone.