Three construction contractors have been shortlisted to deliver a world-class museum which will hold half a million objects and draw international visitors to the geographic heart of Sydney’s metropolitan area.

In a joint announcement, NSW Minister for Arts Don Harwin, Member for Parramatta and Minister for Skills Geoff Lee and City of Parramatta Lord Mayer Cr Bob Dwyer said Lendlease, Multiplex and Richard Crookes Constructions have been shortlisted to deliver the Powerhouse Paramatta project.

The project will deliver the first major cultural and international drawcard to the rapidly expanding Paramatta region.

It will see the relocation of Powerhouse Museum’s collection of more than 500,000 items on its current site in Ultimo to the site of a new 2.5-hectare cultural precinct on the edge of the Parramatta CBD which enjoys extensive frontage to Phillip Street, Wild Avenue and the Parramatta River.

This collection includes items spanning history, science, technology, industry, decorative arts, music, and transport.

The new museum will be home to material heritage and stories of Australian culture, history and lifestyle.

Powerhouse Parramatta artist impression of Exhibition Space 6

Features of the new museum will include:

  • Front and back-of-house spaces.
  • Seven major public presentation spaces.
  • Studio, co-working and collaboration spaces comprising the ‘Powerlab’, supported by residences (serviced apartments) for artists, students, researchers and scientists, and dormitory beds for school students.
  • Education and community spaces for staff, researchers and the Powerlab Residents, the community, and education and commercial hirers.
  • A commercial kitchen comprising the ‘Powerlab Kitchen’ used for research and product development, and as a destination, education and event space.
  • A film, photography, and postproduction studio that will connect communities with industry and content that will interpret the Powerhouse Collection.
  • A public facing research library and archive for community, industry, students and researchers to access materials; and
  • A mix of retail spaces including food and drink tenancies.

Powerhouse Parramatta Square credit Anna Kucera

The idea to relocate the Powerhouse was first raised in 2014 in the NSW State Infrastructure Strategy Update.

This proposed the relocation as part of a strategy to develop a new cultural precinct which would aid Parramatta in becoming a cultural powerhouse as well as an economic powerhouse.

Located within the geographical centre of Sydney’s metropolitan area, ongoing expansion of Parramatta as the ‘Central River City’ forms a part of the Greater Sydney Commission’s long-term plan to transform Sydney into a city ‘three cities’.

Under this plan, the growth of new commercial areas and activity hubs in Parramatta as well as around the planned new airport further west will help to diversify activity away from the CBD in the east and toward the rapidly expanding central and western areas.

By attracting creative industry along with local, interstate and international visitors, the new precinct will aid Parramatta’s development by promoting tourism, creativity, entrepreneurialism and technical innovation.

The new museum will also deliver opportunities for education and research alongside exhibitions and space for social and digital interaction.

More than 4,000 jobs will be created during construction.

To support development of the sector’s workforce, the NSW government is targeting one apprentice for every four tradespeople during construction.

Powerhouse Parramatta Artist Impression of Exhibition Space 1 Source: supplied

Harwin congratulated the shortlisted builders.

“We were very pleased at the number of outstanding builders wanting to deliver this project and it was hard to narrow the list to three,” he said.

“Projects of national significance like the Powerhouse Parramatta come along once in a lifetime and it’s so exciting for the people of Greater Sydney to be delivering this incredible cultural institution here in Parramatta.”

“At over 18,000 square metres of exhibition and public space to house the museum’s collection of over half a million objects, the Powerhouse Parramatta will without doubt become a Museum of international significance.

Powerhous Parramatta Square: credit Anna Kucera

Dwyer said the project would not only deliver jobs for Sydney but would provide an investment boon for the creative sector, local businesses and the visitor economy.