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Sydney, Australia

The Powerhouse is a hands-on exploration of human creativity and ingenuity that emphasises education through computers, films, demonstrations, videos, and experiments. Located near Darling Harbor in the defunct Sydney tram power station, Powehouse is a part of the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences, which also incorporates the Sydney Observatory. Sections are as follows:

Australian social history

These exhibitions include women's domestic work, costumes, brewing and pubs (don't miss the films!), pharmacies (don't miss the constipation recording), and a cinema from the 1930s.

The Boulton and Watt Engine

Apparently 'Australia's greatest treasure.' I got the impression Australia's greatest treasure is Kylie Minogue, but whatever. This is the world's oldest surviving rotative engine.


'A fascinating and diverse range of vehicles powered by people, horses, steam and petrol.' If you're into that.

Success and innovation: achieving for Australia

'Explores the risks and triumphs of Australia's manufacturing industries,' featuring specially designed computer interactives. Pick up the phone and listen to men (I think all men, unfortunately) talk about why they became engineers. Quirky and worth some time.


The exhibition includes original and replica objects from the U.S., Russia, and China.


This large exhibition has a lot of hands-on exhibits with gravity, electricity, magnetism, and heat and light. There are exhibits about laundry detergent, chocolate, sense of smell, and more. Give yourself electro-shock therapy!

Universal Machine: computers and connections

Pretty nifty. We watched a film on the spawning of Microsoft, which would have been better had it not been narrated by that "It can be used as a switch" goober. They also have exhibits on Alan Turing and the Turing Machine, Enigma, punch cards, binary, the Sinclair ZX80, keyboards, et cetera.

There was a large exhibit devoted to female pilots, I think on the 3rd floor, with many large color photographs of current-day female Australian pilots, along with biographical info and quotes about their profession. Definitely not to be missed.

Currently they have a traveling LEGO exhibition, where one may make short films and see Mindstorm robots in action. I will update this after I go this weekend.

Note for parents: Children dig this place, and there is no shortage of stuff for them to do, e.g., open the door to a hall where the restrooms are and scream their head off for no apparent reason whatsoever. Please discourage this sort of behavior.

General Information

Entrance: 500 Harris Street, Ultimo
Telephone: 61 2 9217 0100
Infoline: 61 2 9217 0444
Web site: www.phm.gov.au
Opening hours: 10 am until 5 pm daily
(closed 25 December)

Daily Guided Tours

Free orientation tours run every 15 minutes Monday to Friday between 10:00 am and 1:00 pm. A free highlight tour is at 1:30 pm. You may book these at the special events and tours booking counter on level 4. There are also free special interest tours at 11:15 am and 1:15 pm, details of which are posted on the notice board.

Entry Fees

Adult $8
Child $2

Members, children under five, pensioners, dingoes, vicars, network engineers, and noders enter free.

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