New South Wales
I object to the Powerhouse Museum proposal in its current form for the following reasons:
1. The loss of Willow Grove and St George’s Terrace.
Parramatta has a rich colonial history and fine heritage buildings & public spaces. Some even have World Heritage status. However, many structures have been lost in recent years as the city rapidly grows. Sadly, often the only token nod to heritage is a display case of artefacts, or a tiny section of original wall fabric or similar, in the grand foyer of the new building. If the city’s charm is to be retained, the challenge will be to best integrate the old Parramatta with the new, and the city has a grand opportunity – even an obligation - to showcase its new buildings while retaining its interesting streetscapes, heritage buildings and structures.
The heritage significance of Willow Grove and St George’s Terrace has been well documented and I do not intend to repeat the detail here. Suitably restored and repurposed, these buildings could be key features within the new museum precinct; the desirability of co-locating actual, existing heritage buildings within a new museum precinct seems logical and self-evident. The synergy is obvious, and this should have been a clear requirement of the design competition. Either a fresh competition should be held, or the particular proposal that included the retention of Willow Grove and St George’s Terrace should be accepted.
2. Excessive cost.
No reasonable person would argue that Parramatta should not have a high-quality museum. But this could have been more easily achieved by building a second Powerhouse Museum there, and retaining the principal facility in Ultimo. There are ample items in the collection to support two facilities. The state government has other much higher priorities than a full relocation of the Powerhouse Museum, particularly now that covid-19 has put so much pressure on the state budget. Substantial savings could be made by scaling back the proposed development.
To sum up:
• Parramatta deserves its new museum
• The heritage buildings should be retained as vibrant, key elements within the museum precinct
• Much taxpayer money can be saved by scaling back the proposal
This sensible compromise is a win, win, win, win scenario - for Parramatta, for heritage, for the economy, and for responsible, consultative government.