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Museum of Sydney

The Museum of Sydney is just back from Circular Quay, on the corner of Phillip and Bridge Streets. It is a modern museum, located on the historic site of the first Government House which was built for Governor Phillip in 1788. The Museum of Sydney takes you on a journey to explore Sydney’s people, places and cultures from dreamtime to modern times.

It is a place of many layers: from the archaeological remains of the colony’s first Government House to the award-winning sculpture Edge of the Trees to a dynamic changing exhibition and event program to supplement the permanent exhibits.

One of the fabulous permanent exhibits is Edge of the Trees. This site-specific piece was commissioned for the museum forecourt at its opening in 1995. The installation was created by artists Fiona Foley and Janet Laurence. Their award-winning public art installation evokes the cultural and physical history of the site, before and after 1788 – a pivotal turning point in our history, when contact/invasion/colonisation took place.

The installation is a ‘forest’ of 29 massive pillars made from sandstone, wood and steel and they cluster near the museum entrance. Wooden pillars from trees once grown in the area have been recycled from lost industrial buildings of Sydney. The names of 29 Aboriginal clans from around Sydney correspond to the 29 vertical poles. Walking between the pillars you hear a soundscape of Koori voices reciting the names of places in the Sydney region that have today been swallowed up by the metropolis.

Take your time here so you see things like the organic materials (human hair, shell, bone, feathers, ash and honey) embedded in windows within the elements, representing prior ways of life. Natural and cultural histories are evoked by the names of botanical species carved or burnt into wooden columns in Latin and Aboriginal languages, along with the signatures of First Fleeters. Place names are engraved on the sandstone pillars in English and Aboriginal languages.

Once inside you can check out the amazing scale models of the ships of the First Fleet and see the foundations of the first Government House, once the social and administrative centre of the colony. There’s also the opportunity to watch rare historic films from the National Film and Sound Archive and there are always rewarding temporary exhibitions.

For all-day contemporary dining The Governors Table Bar & Dining is located above the foundations of the first Government House, fusing modern Australian cuisine with colonial era cooking techniques. It opens Monday 7.30am to 5:00pm; Tuesday to Friday, 7.30am till late; Saturday, 8.30am till late; Sunday 9.30am to 5:00pm. For bookings, contact +61 2 9241 1788.

The Museum of Sydney opens from 10:00am to 5:00pm (closed Good Friday and Christmas Day). Admission costs $10 for adults, $5 for children and concessions and $20 for families (two adults and two children). Members are free. There is level entry to the museum and forecourt and lift access to all floors. For what’s currently on at The Museum of Sydney, here is a link to that section of the Museum of Sydney website.

Need somewhere to stay close to all the action? Spend the night at Rydges Darling Square! Located in the centre of all the action. Check out our accommodation packages options today or contact our friendly team on +61 2 8268 8888.

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