Powerhouse Museum Bulletin 44

Since the state election, the matter of the 'move' has been rather off the radar. Whether it is because people have lost heart, or whether people feel that any idea of adding to Sydney's already absurd over-production of apartments is so ridiculous that the project will be quietly shelved, or whether some of the high profile opponents of the move are in Europe for the winter, the fact is that the protest movement has largely centred around the indefatigable Save the Powerhouse facebook page, and the Powerhouse Museum Alliance website. This is a battle that must not be lost.

Agreed Facts: please publicise.

The attached fact sheet is supported by copious data from the Inquiry and elsewhere, and for well over a year we have been asking for the government to disprove any of the items listed with not the slightest response. This is the main contribution that the email network has made to the debate, and is good ammunition for any opportunity we could have for rational interaction with the Government. If you are not familiar with it please read it now.

Our main effort at this time is to get these facts widely known. If you would like to forward this to any media people or politicians that you are in contact with it would be great.

The main developments recently have been:

The announcement of the successful applicants for the first stage of the design.

See, for example, https://architectureau.com/articles/shortlist-announced-parramatta-powerhouse-museum-design-competition/ .These people will compete for the next stage of the process by submitting concept designs, the winner being announced late this year.

At least two issues emerge:  

The brief for the design competition indicated that the full site at Parramatta was available for the new museum. However the Business Case clearly indicates that the project is only financially viable if part if the site is used for a non-museum tower building and the Parramatta Council (which has never approved the use of that site for the museum) has stated that Willow Grove and other heritage sites must be preserved. Thus it is quite dishonest to state that the whole site was available to the designers. See the attached plan of the Parramatta site.

Secondly, a percipient contributor to the Save the Powerhouse facebook page has  made an interesting point:

The winner, to be decided towards the end of this year, will naturally have to comply with the NSW Architects Code of Professional Conduct, which states “(3) An architect must withdraw from the provision of any architectural services if the architect reasonably believes that, in the architect’s professional judgment, the provision of the services would require the architect to act: (a) in a manner that the architect considers UNETHICAL …

See the  ‘agreed facts’ section. Can the move possibly be regarded as ‘ethical’?

Preparations for the ‘move’ are under way.

Among other things, the southern end of the Harwood Building has been fitted with special desks and other facilities and extra staff is to be hired to enable the packing of the smaller exhibits. The museum experts of the protest movement have drawn everybody’s attention to the fact that there have been effectively no highly qualified people in the museum field that have been involved in the preparation of the Business Case. An exception is Root projects, whose principal, Peter Root, actually assisted the setting up of the current museum, though his expertise is in the field of logistics, not museology. His section of the Business Plan certainly details an efficient way to gut a museum. However, there are no details of the particular problems of moving the very large objects. When he gave evidence to the Inquiry, he was very careful to avoid any detailed answers regarding many aspects of his work, notably as to the terms of reference for his work, which does not seem to involve the problems of moving the problem large objects..

See http://www.maasbusinesscase.com/Transcripts%20and%20related/Transcript%20-%2017%20February%202017%20-%20Corrected.pdf page 30ff.  

I have been informed that the relocation cost is now public but cannot find it anywhere and am seeking this information from the Government, as well as details of the assessment of the move difficulties in regard to the Boulton and Watt machine, the Catalina, air ambulance VH-AMB and the Apollo rocket engine.

The Government has completely rejected the findings of the Inquiry.

Relevant parts of the Government’s final response to the Inquiry are attached, and it does not deserve further comment. It completely ignores the FACTS presented at the Inquiry and elsewhere. I am fed up with pulling holes in it, but the overriding factor is that the basic idea is stupid. One thing that I am pursuing, however, is the statement that Highly qualified consultants in cultural infrastructure, museum logistics, urban planning, construction and operations contributed via peer review processes and governance panels. We have demonstrated that at least up to the release of the business case, there was no such process, particularly in regard to the original idea, and seek further clarification.

But small a ray of hope:

The new supremo of PHM, Lisa Havilah, has taken another step towards once again recognising the value of the ‘Affiliated Groups’. These are groups of people interested in specialist fields that since the opening of the original museums in the 1800s worked in cooperation with the museum. This stopped about ten years ago when the museum put up the shutters and did not communicate. If you want more details, email me.

Also she has indicated that she is in favour of a longer period of occupancy of the Ultimo site: see the 9 April entry in https://powerhousemuseumalliance.com/find-out-more/a-news-chronology/ .

And finally:

Welcome to the new members of the email group and thanks to those who have emailed and provided information and ideas.

Tom Lockley

Attachments: agreed facts re phm move.pdf       Parramatta plan.pdf  190717 Government response - Museums and galleries - Final report.pdf

 (tomlockley@gmail.com , 0403 615 134, PO Box 301 Pyrmont 2009
tomlockley@gmail.com is the best method of communication)

Australia’s major museum of arts and sciences in Sydney’s most evocative heritage building. For more information
See also: https://www.facebook.com/savepowerhousemuseum/  https://www.facebook.com/savethepowerhouse/ http://lockoweb.com/phm/

The business case is online at the private website http://maasbusinesscase.com/