The NSW government wants to spend $10 million moving the Powerhouse Museum to Parramatta

A car from last year’s Auto Obsession exhibition at the Powerhouse Museum. Photo: Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images

A reelected Baird government will spend $10 million moving the inner-city Powerhouse Museum, near Darling Harbour, to Parramatta as part of a new arts and cultural precinct in Western Sydney, selling off the old site in Ultimo to pay for the new building.

Premier Mike Baird announced the plan today, four weeks out from the New South Wales election on March 28.

The existing museum, in the former Ultimo power station, opened in 1988 and houses a range of technological artefacts, including a steam locomotive built by Robert Stephenson in 1854, which hauled the first passenger train in NSW. In 2012, it hosted the record-breaking Harry Potter exhibition and subsequently, the equally popular Star Wars exhibition.

The Premier said a design competition will be held for the new site. The existing Ultimo premises will be sold by the government under its “urban renewal” program with the money being put towards the new museum.

“This will be the first time one of the State’s five major cultural institutions will be entirely located in Western Sydney,” Baird said.

“The $10 million will be used to develop a business case for the Museum’s relocation to ensure it remains the interactive and vibrant place enjoyed by children and families.

The premier also released his government’s art policy Create in NSW: The NSW Arts & Cultural Policy Framework, which includes $800,000 to attract a resident company for the Riverside Theatre in partnership with Parramatta Council. Another $7.5 million if being offered to support artists and organisations based in Western Sydney.

The latest announcement comes on top of the Premier’s announcement earlier this week of a $600 million arts and cultural infrastructure fund – contingent on the government’s plan to sell off the poles and wires power network – which includes a $202 million upgrade for the Sydney Opera House as well as $139 million for the Walsh Bay arts precinct, where the Sydney Dance Company and Sydney Theatre Company are currently based, to build a waterfront public square between the two wharves currently used for arts.

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