Campaign to Save the Powerhouse
Bulletin 65: marking time, waiting for news (June 13 2021)
As we saw last July 4, the important decisions may be made very quickly, by a small and largely unknown group of people, with very short notice, ignoring expert advice and democratic process The present political situation s such that the only way change can be achieved is if the pressure on this little group becomes such that their present policies become untenable. Hence we need to continually expose the flaws in the whole process.
The overall situation, however, is too complex to describe in just one bulletin. The next bulletin we hope will contain an updated facts sheet, but in the meantime here are a few snippets of information.
Developments at the museum
In brief: the museum ‘rejuvenation’ continues, with some progress.
The Space area of the transport hall (15% of the transport hall) has reopened. The rest is sealed off behind walls while the floor is being levelled by grinding etc and the area is ‘rejuvenated’. There are now vacuum devices that collect the cement dust, and the items remaining on the floor – Governor’s rail carriage, horse omnibus, 1904 tram etc - now have some dust covers. These occupy another 20% of the floor area, and the only exhibits remaining in the remaining 65% of the area are the suspended aircraft. The massive frameworks for the viewing platform and display cabinets, seen in bulletin 60, have been completely removed. Happily, the ‘signal box’ upstairs view point has not been demolished.
The latest information from https://www.maas.museum/whats-on/ , lists coming exhibitions. There have been some changes to the plans announced early this year: see the original document at https://powerhousemuseumalliance.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/PHM-2021-Program-Final.pdf
The Microcars exhibition, involving the opening of the ‘rejuvenated’ Transport Hall, was scheduled for 11 June 2021 but is now scheduled to open on 8 October. Details at https://www.maas.museum/event/microcars/ We look forward to the reopening, and at the April volunteers meeting Ms Havilah indicated that the replacement and modern upgrading of informational signage for the aircraft etc was also in train, with some general consultations also in prospect on this matter. This upgrade is sorely needed!
The Clay Dynasty exhibition, originally scheduled to open on 28 May on level 1, will now open on 20 August. Details at https://www.maas.museum/event/clay-dynasty/ .
100 Conversations, the replacement for the comprehensive Ecologic exhibition, at the southern end of the Transport Hall, was scheduled to open on 11 June, but now is scheduled to be inaugurated in November, https://www.maas.museum/event/100-conversations/ . Weekly conversations will be filmed over the following two years as part of Australia’s most ambitious climate-focused exhibition and program. The display will play a crucial role in engaging audiences and presenting an evidence-based and empowering vision of the future. This matter is of vital importance to our young people, and much depends on the value of this exhibition.
Eucalyptusdom, which reflects changing attitudes towards and understanding of Australia’s iconic gum trees, will open on June 30 as was scheduled in January. This idea has great potential. The Electric Keys exhibition is also scheduled to open on July 2. Dates for these have not been changed.
It is good to see that Experimentations has reopened. Aimed at children aged 5-12 years, their parents, teachers and carers, the exhibition is designed to be an informal learning space that inspires curiosity and questioning, and allows visitors to play and experiment with materials and processes. There are some restrictions in place because of Covid 19, but Experimentations fills an important need.
School holidays begin on 29 June. It is good to see that some school holiday workshops at Ultimo are planned ( https://www.maas.museum/event/museum-minecraft-workshops-ages-9-12/ ) which, if I am not mistaken, is the first time these activities have been held for over a year. These are very popular events, but under Covid restrictions attendance is restricted to only ten participants per day. The computer and video teaching areas of The Powerhouse Museum have also been stripped of equipment for the past months.
At the Parramatta ‘Community Space’, the PR area for whatever is being planned at Parramatta, there are several free school holiday activities, listed on the MAAS website.
The wider news front
We await the outcome of the Land and Environment Court Case regarding the Willow Grove heritage site, and also, in general terms, the full plans and Business Cases for the Powerhouse Museum and whatever is in train for Parramatta. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the information was released to the public and seen to be rational and a good use of our money and heritage? Watch this space.
There is a huge amount of action throughout the Government and among those who continue to protest the museum ‘move’, impossible to summarise here. Late in 2019 I had an interview with a senior Government official who suggested that the protest movement would ‘get over it’ and accept the Government’s plans. There is not a chance of this happening. Postings to the Powerhouse Museum Alliance website and to the Save the Powerhouse Facebook site, for example, seem to be at an all-time high, worth daily checking.
Activity of the email group
‘Correspondence out’ over the past month has included
· a request for information about the requirement to remove the 1988 display cabinets within the Transport Hall. The cabinets were found to no longer meet fire safety standards and were deemed as non-compliant (statement from the CEO) and surely there is no problem in releasing this information.
· a formal complaint about the lack of appropriate museum standards of care for exhibits in the demolition of the display cabinets etc on level 1.
When replies are received, they will be circulated.
Long term readers of these bulletins will be aware of the many examples of obfuscation, selective reporting and other devices used by the Government to deflect criticism. This is not good practice, but even worse, there is one clear example of false information being presented, under oath, to the Legislative Council Inquiry and remaining on the public record. After drawing attention to this on many occasions, a formal letter was sent, by tracked mail, to the Premiers Department asking that this be remedied. The reply simply dodged the issue completely, providing further evidence that the Government is not at all worried about the accuracy of their pronouncements. For the tragics, the documentation is attached.
A bit of stocktaking and housekeeping.
There has been a minor influx of new people wanting to receive our bulletins. This has prompted a bit of thought about procedures and aims. Basically, the email group members provide information, and as relevant a bulletin is sent out. For various reasons, informants may wish to remain anonymous, and for this reason the material presented may not be fully referenced. If there is an error, or something needs clarifying, please contact me and this will be done as expeditiously as practicable. Only four very minor points of error have had to be clarified over the 5+ years the email group has existed.
Incidentally, links to bulletins and publications since the first, on 1 May 2016, can be found on this page. But we are a very small part of the anti-‘move’ effort. The Powerhouse Museum Alliance website and the Save the Powerhouse facebook dominate the dissemination of information. Extreme Government secrecy, on the contrary, means that Australian democracy is not being well served, and this is very disappointing.
Thanks for reading this and for continuing support. Please communicate by email to email@example.com rather than using 'reply'.
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Attachment: correspondence re review groups: final response that no action would be taken over WRONG information given by Mr Harwin to Inquiry