Powerhouse Castle Hill officially opens its doors today with a weekend of community celebrations including special behind the scenes tours and experiences of the museum’s new $44m state-of-the-art storage facility.

Powerhouse Castle Hill will be officially opened by NSW Minister for Arts and Tourism John Graham. Over two days from 10am – 4pm, visitors can enjoy free, family-friendly workshops, artists talks, architectural tours and performances by musicians, DJs and dancers including First Nations group Jannawi Dance Clan, Western Sydney Youth Orchestra and one of Australia’s oldest lion and dragon dancing troupes, Jin Wu Koon.

The opening weekend will also premiere the first exhibition in the new building, Alchemy, presenting commissions by First Nations artists from across Australia who specialise in natural dyeing techniques.

Powerhouse Castle Hill has been delivered through a partnership between Create NSW, NSW Public Works and the Powerhouse. Designed by Lahznimmo Architects and built by Taylor Construction, Powerhouse Castle Hill is the new home for the storage, conservation and display of the Powerhouse Collection which includes more than 500,000 objects. This is the first time in the museum’s 140-year history that the collection will be stored in one location and co-located alongside conservation, curatorial and collection management staff.

At more than 8,000sqm, Powerhouse Castle Hill has been constructed to international museum standards and features a visible store, allowing public viewing into the 3,000 sqm Large Object storage area that stores the museum’s transport collection. One of the southern hemisphere's largest photographic cycloramas has been created that can carry objects up to 4 tonnes and enable the ongoing digitisation of the collection.

The new building will provide public access for education programs, workshops, talks, exhibitions and other public events as well as working spaces for academic researchers, scientists and industry partners. The design of Powerhouse Castle Hill has already earned Lahznimmo Architects a nomination in the Australian Institute of Architects 2024 New South Wales Architecture Awards in the category of Public Architecture.

The opening of the building is the latest evolution of the Castle Hill site, which was originally a botanical research station for the museum. From the late 1970s, the Powerhouse started storing some of its collection at Castle Hill. In recent years, this facility became shared storage known as the Museums Discovery Centre for collection objects from the Powerhouse as well as the Australian Museum and Museums of History NSW. The new Powerhouse Castle Hill building sits alongside the Museums Discovery Centre, and both are open and free to the public every weekend.

The expansion of Castle Hill is an integral piece of the $1.2 billion renewal of the Powerhouse which includes Powerhouse Parramatta, currently under construction, and the heritage revitalisation of the Powerhouse Museum in Ultimo.

NSW Arts and Tourism Minister John Graham said, ‘Powerhouse Castle Hill will provide an exceptional facility to care for the renowned and beloved collection held by the museum. Importantly, it also increases the community’s access to cultural infrastructure and arts programming in Sydney’s north-west. Increasing access to arts and culture in the community is vitally important and the Castle Hill facility will make a significant contribution to the communities of Greater Western Sydney.'

Powerhouse Trust President Peter Collins AM KC said, ‘The Powerhouse has a long history in Castle Hill and we are excited to show the community inside our beautiful new built-for-purpose storehouse and public exhibition space, Powerhouse Castle Hill. This new building will support the museum’s conservation, preparation and exhibition-making functions and consolidate the museum's collection on one site. It will enhance the community's access to the museum's broad spectrum of objects covering history, science, technology, design, industry, decorative arts, music, transport, and space exploration and more.’

Powerhouse Chief Executive Lisa Havilah said, ‘It is a transformative moment in the history of our museum with the opening today of Powerhouse Castle Hill. We are incredibly thankful to the NSW Government for its investment into the renewal of the Powerhouse. I would also like to thank our delivery partners; Create NSW, NSW Public Works and Taylors Construction who demonstrated absolute commitment delivering an exceptional piece of infrastructure that will support the care of the Powerhouse Collection for many generations to come. The design was led by an ambitious design team Lahznimmo Architects and our thanks go to Andrew Nimmo and his team for their outstanding work.’

Create NSW CEO, Annette Pitman said, ‘Create NSW is proud to have been part of this exceptional collaboration which has delivered a first-class cultural asset for the people of the Hills Shire, and communities across NSW. The end result is a superb facility that will safely house the extraordinary Powerhouse Collection and be a centre point for cultural engagement in the community.’

Lahznimmo Architects Director Andrew Nimmo said, ‘The building sits within the tradition of large industrial sheds, and it was important that it be true to type, but as the new public facing representation of the Powerhouse Museum at Castle Hill, it needed something special; so there is rigour in the selection of materials and how they are assembled that you do not usually see applied to this typology. The material palette, both inside and out, is minimal and elemental, with the honest expression of materials on display to showcase their natural properties – including mill finish aluminium, off-form concrete walls and polished concrete floors. We aimed for ‘beautiful utility’; a building with a calmness and cool precision that would functionally serve the activities within and protect the collection.’

Taylor Senior Project Manager Steve Ziaziaris said, ‘Taylor is proud to have been selected as the delivery partner on this ground-breaking project, transforming a once narrow strip of land into a unique and beautiful building. Our collaboration with Lisa Havilah and her team emphasised detail and aesthetics, overcoming unique challenges to deliver a building that exceeds expectations.’

Powerhouse Castle Hill is open from 10-4pm every weekend. Today and tomorrow, free regular shuttle buses between Powerhouse Castle Hill and Hills Showground Metro Station will be running throughout the weekend. Parking is also available in the TAFE NSW car park, entrance via Green Rd.

For the full program of official opening weekend events visit https://ph.au/43dGq8x



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