Saturday 13 December 2014

Museum of Sydney

The Museum of Sydney (MOS) is built on the site of the first Government House built by Governor Arthur Phillip in 1788.
It was officially opened in 1995 after years of debate, community consultation & protest.
To see some photos & sketches of the first Government House click through to the MOS page here.

I had my first visit soon after it opened to see what all the fuss was about.
At the time I was particularly impressed by the glass floor in the foyer that displayed the foundations of the first Government House.

Subsequent visits have revealed all sorts of curiosities from early botanical drawings, to thousands of photos taken during the construction of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, to wild Rhino's & to collages created for a children's picture book.

My most recent visit was to see the Harry Seidler: Painting Toward Architecture exhibition (photos & story to appear in the next few weeks).

One of the things I learnt from this visit is that the unusual markings on the forecourt area actually mean something!

From one of the upper windows you can clearly see the white granite pavers that mark the outlines of extensions made to the original Government House.
The first nine governors of NSW lived & worked from here. 
Many extensions and renovations were completed during this time.

The steel studs mark the outline of the original home that Governor Phillip lived in.

The raised paver reveals part of the house's early footings.


An installation of poles stands out the front of the MOS.
Titled 'Edge of the Trees' (Janet Lawrence & Fiona Foley) it represents the trees that the Gadigal people watched the arrival of the First Fleet from. To complete the symbolism from this first encounter, language, materials and layers of memory have been embedded into the 'trees'.

My DK Top 10 of Sydney has this to say about MOS,

This stunning museum occupies the site of Australia's first Government House, a prefaricated structure that was shipped over the First Fleet in 1788. That structure was demolished in1846, but some of its original footings are still visible through glass panels set into the floor. The museum places the history of white settlement against the Aboriginal custodianship of the land. The museums'd plaza features Edge of the Trees, an installation and soundscape which explores Aboriginal history and culture.

The 31st August 2014 marked the bicentenary of Governor Phillip's death.
The day was commemorated with the installation of this bust into the forecourt of the MOS.
Sculpted in bronze by Jean Hill in 1952, this memorial bust was originally housed in the Museum of Contemporary Art.

One of the events I was fortunate enough to experience at the MOS was the launch of Jeanie Baker's latest picture book, Mirror in 2010. It was officially opened by Dame Marie Bashir, Governor of NSW. 

Bashir is a truly inspirational woman. 
Over the years she has advocated for adolescent mental health, early childhood servies and Indigenous & migrant health issues.
She recently retired, as the longest serving state Governor, after 13 years of serving the public interest.
I'm thrilled to have had a night in her company, checking out Baker's collages (below).

The MOS is one of the Sydney Living Museums.
This post is part of Saturday Snapshot.


  1. Very impressive buildings...and how wonderful that the governor advocated for services that many governments overlook. Thanks for sharing...and, in the absence of our leader today, I am going through last week's links to find participants for today.


  2. Lots of interesting camera angles and colorful photos. Good job.

  3. Great series of captures. I like your perspective .
    Happy SS!

  4. I didn't know this place existed. It may have to be added to our places to visit when we are in Sydney again.

    Happy Holidays!
    Sean @ His and Her Hobbies

  5. I've never managed to visit the Museum of Sydney... I've walked past and seen the poles outside. It's on my list of things to do one day. I like that they've kept a memory of the original buildings.


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