The primary item of interest related to the Museum of Sydney, and you don’t have to pay the exorbitant $10 entry fee (you might want to consider a Museum Pass – see later) to appreciate it, is that it is built over and around the remains of Australia’s first Government House.
Inside the museum door you can inspect the remnants of a Government House wall, while outside, if viewed from above you can see an outline of the former walls of the first Government House tiled into the pavement as pictured above.
Also in the foyer, and again viewable without buying a ticket, is an interesting painting – Invasion I, pictured above. This is an Aboriginal perspective by Gordon Syron (1999) depicting the negative feelings of Aboriginals to the arrival in/ settlement of Australia by Europeans in 1788.
In terms of the museum itself, it comprises a few small rooms of explanatory boards and what can only be termed assorted tidbits and bric a brac – such as the collection of (1970s at a guess) tacky Sydney souvenirs.
To be fair, there are a couple of things which did interest me – a model of the original Government House and scale models of the 11 ships which comprised the First Fleet. The First Fleet brought the first European settlers to Australia and arrived into Sydney Cove (now Circular Quay) on 26 January 1788. The new settlers were a mixed bag of around 1,500 government officials, convicts, seamen, marines and their wives and children, determined to or forced to create a new British Colony on the other side of the world. The model ships are the only things in the museum you are not allowed to photograph.
Overall, unless you get the Sydney Museum Pass, which I refer to below, I do not recommend you visit this museum – the highest praise I can bestow on it would be ‘lacklustre’. With the Pass, go for it on condition that the other museums included are of interest to you.
My grandmother used to always tell me that if I had nothing good to say about someone or something then it was best to say nothing at all. With this in mind, I do want to laud the Sydney Living Museums (SLM) (of which the Museum of Sydney is the ‘flagship’ bricks and mortar museum) website which has some great content for those interested in, particularly, the social history of Sydney. Additionally, SLM runs the excellent annual Sydney Open (day), a day each year when various generally hard to visit or otherwise private buildings are open to the public. See my separate review on Sydney Open.
SLM also manages a number of historic houses and gardens within the city with limited opening hours – see website – and runs a number of other activities and tours, including the Tank Stream tour which remains high on my priority list.
Back to the Museum or rather the Sydney Museums Pass I referred to earlier. This pass, which cost $18 (concession $9) in 2016, gives access to the Sydney Museum, the Police and Justice Museum, Hyde Park Barracks Museum and the Susannah Place Museum. The nearby Police and Justice Museum and the Susannah Place Museum are certainly worth a visit while the Hyde Park Barracks is ok. As such, for me, the pass was worth buying.
Museum of Sydney Opening Hours
Daily: 10am – 5pm (closed Good Friday and Christmas Day)
Admission Fee (though I recommend you buy a Museums Pass)
Child (under 15) / Concession $5
Family (two adults + two children) $20
Address: Cnr Phillip and Bridge Streets