Stories

Our houses, museums and collections are packed to the brim with stories of all kinds

Watercolour of a group of people landing ashore

Rose redacted

How Rose de Freycinet was erased from the official narrative of the 'Uranie' voyage

Onlookers seated on the monumental steps for the  Opera House’s opening ceremony. October 20th 1973.

‘The people’s house’: what’s in a name?

The ‘Sydney Opera House’, the ‘Opera House’, or simply ‘the House’ – we know it by many names. But why is this Australian icon also called ‘the people’s house’? Exhibition curator Dr Scott Hill explores the story behind a name

Dairy, Vaucluse House

The coolest room in the house

What practical techniques can we learn from historical building design to minimise heat and energy consumption in our homes today?

Watercolour illustration of an urban setting

After the first Government House

Remarkably, the site of the first Government House remained largely undeveloped for more than 140 years before the Museum of Sydney was built, despite numerous schemes for this valuable piece of CBD land

The house Currandooley, 1961. Enrico Taglietti architect.

Two Point Perspective: Enrico Taglietti, a facade of shadows

In this podcast our presenters Rebecca Hawcroft and Kieran McInerney go on the road to western NSW and Canberra to look at the work of an Italian architect

View of the Australian Ballet 'The sleeping beauty (detail)' [right] and the Opera Australia 'Mariana Hong in Falstaff (detail) ' and the Sydney Symphony Orchestra 'People's choice concert (detail) [left] stairwell banners - The People's House marketing & installation photoshoot

Sydney Opera House: inspired design

Kieran Larkin, Senior 3D Designer at Museums of History NSW, talked to us about some of the highlights and challenges of designing the landmark exhibition The People’s House: Sydney Opera House at 50, on display at the Museum of Sydney until March 2024

Equestrian Statue of the King, Astor Flats and Chief Secretary’s Building

The Astor, 1923–2023

Upon completion in 1923, The Astor in Sydney's Macquarie Stree twas the largest reinforced concrete building in Australia, the tallest residential block, and this country’s first company title residences

First Nations stories

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'Day of Mourning' Aboriginal meeting on 26 January 1938 at Australian Hall, Sydney, NSW
First Nations

Day of Mourning

January 26 has long been a day of debate and civic action. Those who celebrate may be surprised of the date’s significance in NSW as a protest to the celebrations of the anniversary of the arrival of the First Fleet on what was then “Anniversary Day” in NSW

Close up view of Steven Russel and Phyllis Stewart 'Untitled (woven Sydney Opera House)', 2023 - The People's House marketing & installation photoshoot - The People's House marketing & installation photoshoot
First Nations

How to weave an opera house

Inspired by a stunning shellworked model of the Sydney Opera House by Bidjigal artist Esme Timbery, First Nations curator Tess Allas commissioned a woven model of the iconic building from master weavers Steven Russell and Phyllis Stewart

Campaign photos for Cutter and Coota, featuring a performer dressed in a possum skin cloak posing within the grounds of the Hyde Park Barracks.

Cutter and Coota: a children’s play by Bruce Pascoe

Meet author and historian Bruce Pascoe and the main characters from his play Cutter and Coota as they reflect on the play’s themes and the experience of performing at the Hyde Park Barracks

Sergeant Tracker Alexander ‘Alec’ Riley wearing his police uniform

Alexander Riley, legendary Aboriginal police tracker

The remarkable talents of Aboriginal trackers who worked for NSW Police in the 20th century are featured in a display at the Justice & Police Museum

Convicts

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EPU10_CONSYD_001_0.jpg
Convict Sydney

Convict Sydney

From a struggling convict encampment to a thriving Pacific seaport, a city takes shape.

Convict Barrack Sydney N.S. Wales

Hyde Park Barracks – the convict years

In 1788, the penal colony of New South Wales was established on the Country of the Gadigal people

Several tall ships anchored in Sydney Cove with long boats unloading passengers. The headland that is the rocks can be seen in the background to the left of the frame.
Convict Sydney

The turning tide

Amidst public outcry, the convict ships stop but the ‘stain’ of Sydney’s convict past is harder to erase

Convict Sydney, Level 1, Hyde Park Barracks Museum
Convict Sydney

Objects

These convict-era objects and archaeological artefacts found at Hyde Park Barracks and The Mint (Rum Hospital) are among the rarest and most personal artefacts to have survived from Australia’s early convict period

Sydney Opera House

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Fort Macquarie, a man stand at boats moored in front of the building

Fort Macquarie, Bennelong Point

Fort Macquarie was constructed between 1817-1821 and demolished in 1901. The Tram Depot was opened in 1902 and pulled down in 1958 to make way for the building of the Sydney Opera House

Government Printing Office 2 - 08376 - Opera House Committee at Public Works Building [Department of Local Government; interiors; architects; public servants] [GPO original locations or series - 47927] [11/1/1957]

Management of the Sydney Opera House

The Sydney Opera House Trust operates and maintains the Opera House on behalf of the NSW Government

Fireworks above the Opera House on the night of the official opening, before the commencement of the opening concert. October 20th 1973.

Opening of the Sydney Opera House

The Opera House was officially opened by Her Majesty the Queen on 20 October 1973. This was followed by a two-week festival of events

Government Printing Office 2 - 49270 - Sydney Opera House [Public Works] [GPO original locations or series - St89262] [Jun-73]

Photographs and oral histories of Sydney Opera House

There are many images of the Sydney Opera House in all stages of construction and use in the State Archives Collection.

Conservation

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A women holds a large book open while she threads the pages together.

Conserving the archive

Supervising conservator Dominique Moussou talks through her work and some of the projects underway in the MHNSW conservation lab

Kitchen, 60 Gloucester Street, Susannah Place Museum
Conservation

Susannah Place conservation project

A behind-the-scenes look at some of the complex work that goes into conserving and preserving the fascinating Susannah Place Museum

Internal view of the timber shed at Rouse Hill Estate
Conservation

A strong and simple structure: conserving the woolshed

The second phase of a major conservation project on the woolshed at Rouse Hill Estate has seen the rustic 160-year-old structure strengthened and stabilised

Rose Seidler (left) and Bea Evans seated in the living room, Rose Seidler House

Conserving Harry Seidler’s sofa 

A sofa Harry Seidler designed for Rose Seidler House was conserved and reupholstered, and the process revealed some unexpected findings

Stories about our places

Joseph Lycett, 'The residence of John McArthur Esq. near Parramatta, New South Wales'. Aquatint. Published London, John Souter, 1825. Elizabeth Farm collection, Museums of History New South Wales.
Museum stories

A turbulent past

With its deep, shady verandahs and elegant symmetry, Elizabeth Farm is an iconic early colonial bungalow

Black and white image of a sandstone building. A man can be seen in the foreground.
Museum stories

Gritty business

Immerse yourself in Sydney's chilling criminal past in this unique water-front museum of policing, law and disorder – with its grizzly collection of underworld weapons along with tales of mayhem and lawlessness, aptly described as an educational resource befitting a 'professor in crime'

Image of the Meroogal homestead on a sunny day.
Museum stories

Make yourself at home

Meroogal became home to four generations of resilient and resourceful women, whose house was their livelihood as well as their home

image of painting showing a dramatic panoramic view of harbour surrounded by natural bushland with Vaucluse estate in the foreground.
Museum stories

Not a lovelier site

‘There is not a lovelier site in the known world’, wrote the Sydney-born barrister and novelist John Lang about the Wentworth family’s estate of Vaucluse

3D story telling

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Elizabeth Farm house - front verandah and carriageway

'A most excellent brick house' Elizabeth Farm

Curator Dr Scott Hill explores some of the enduring mysteries buried in the architecture of Australia’s oldest surviving homestead

3D scanning the archaeological dog skeleton

A key component of Museum of Sydney’s interpretation is the archaeological remains of First Government House

Large 2 storey building with deep verandahs, steps leading to lower verandah and bushes and driveway in the foreground.
Museum stories

A rum deal

When Lachlan Macquarie began his term as governor of NSW in 1810, Sydney was in desperate need of a new hospital

Plant your history

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Plant your history

Beautiful bountiful bamboo

One of the most recognisable plants growing at Museums of History NSW today is bamboo. This colourful plant has a long history in colonial gardens

Pink racemes of crepe myrtle against the Elizabeth Farm homestead

In the pink at Elizabeth Farm

Amid the late summer bounty in the garden at Elizabeth Farm, the crepe myrtle is the undoubted star of the show

Plant your history

Sumptuous cape bulbs light up late summer gardens

Belladonna Lilies and Crinum Lilies are tough bulbs that never say die and can survive years of neglect

Plants against a sandstone wall in the front garden of The Mint.
Plant your history

Acanthus - an apt symbol for The Mint

Look at any classical building today, anywhere in the world and chances are you will find an acanthus leaf lurking somewhere

Dodgy, dangerous, disturbing

3D models: a fascinating exploration of some seemingly innocent objects modified for nefarious purposes from the Justice & Police Museum collection

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