Museum of Sydney
A modern museum built on the historic site of the first Government House
About the building
Built on the site of Australia’s first Government House, the Museum of Sydney is deeply rooted in the city’s history.
The house was built in 1788 for Governor Arthur Phillip, who lived and worked there; as did the next eight governors of NSW. For 57 years, the site was the centre of the colony’s social, economic and political life. It was a symbol of British authority to those who were forced or who chose to settle here, and a symbol of invasion for First Nations people, whose land was claimed and forever changed by the newcomers. Yet in its early years, first Government House was also a place of close contact between Aboriginal people and the settlers.
In 1835, the British Government agreed a new government house was needed. It was completed in 1843, overlooking Sydney harbour, and the first Government House was abandoned as the city developed.
In 1983, archaeologists discovered the foundations of the house, along with other artefacts, when the site was being investigated for commercial development. Instead, a museum was proposed in order to preserve the site for the public. Denton Corker Marshall designed the museum in the early 1990s to respond to and protect the nationally significant remains of the first Government House that lie beneath the public forecourt.
Today, the Museum of Sydney’s permanent displays and temporary exhibitions take visitors on a journey exploring the people, places and culture of Sydney. The permanent gallery Yura Nura honours the diverse and complex history, culture and survival of the Gadigal people on whose land this museum stands. The current major exhibition celebrates the Sydney Opera House’s 50th anniversary.Built
Denton Corker MarshallAwards
Royal Australian Institute of Architects NSW Awards – Lloyd Rees Award for Civic Design, 1995
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