The Powerhouse Museum has become one of the most affordable attractions in Sydney for families that they are seeking educational but also interactive activities to do with their children.
Here Mireia Garriga Seguranyes and her three girls explore the Powerhouse, plus the Museums Discovery Centre in Castle Hill.
The Powerhouse Museum
500 Harris St, Ultimo
02 9217 0111
As most of our Hello Sydney Kids readers already know, the Powerhouse Museum is an extraordinary first point of contact for children to discover science, technology, industry, design, health and medicine, fashion and history treasures.
From my point of view, the success of the Powerhouse Museum is not just the quantity of exhibited objects (more than 500,000) but also the way that they are displayed.
The Powerhouse Museum really encourages little minds and adults to discover permanent exhibitions in a creative and interactive way such as “ the Lab” and the recently updated “Experimentations”.
Also, the Powerhouse Museum always has interesting temporal exhibitions such as the current “Recollect: Health & Medicine”.
And – hooray – kids are free under the age of 16, thanks to the NSW Government.
Two great examples of not-to-be-missed exhibitions that are currently in the Powerhouse Museum are “Egyptian Mummies: Exploring Ancient Lives” and the recently upgraded “Wiggles Exhibition”.
Egyptian Mummies: Exploring Ancient Lives
On now until 30 April 2017. Pricing: Adults $27, Concession $25, Child (4-16 years) $16, Family (2 adults + 2 children or 1 adult + 3 children) $65, Free entry for children under 4 years. Click on here for more information: Exploring Ancient Lives
The big question is: Is this exhibition suitable for young children?
To be honest, we struggled a little bit. My husband and I wished to have spent more time in the exhibition. With our three active little monkeys was impossible to read the information and to observe the fine details of each mummy.
The fact that you could actually discover who those mummies were was fascinating. You could imagine what type of life they had thanks to the collected data (age, gender, nutrition, lifestyle, state of health and how they died).
My children didn’t seem interested in the exhibition until they saw the mummy of a two-year-old child. Miss 6-year-old and Miss 4 year-old were very impressed and so, they asked us some questions like “Why that child died” and “Why do mummies have bandages”…
After having had a quick look at the mummies, my children found a better place to get entertained: the “mummy’s chamber”. Being three active monkeys, you can imagine that they loved going inside the chamber that lies under a big photomural of a pyramid. That was fun!
Then, if I have super active children, is it worth it to go?
Absolutely! All children learn more than we can realise. My 6-year-old and 4-year-old daughters still remember the exhibition when we went in December. Maybe, it is because they saw a little mummy. Who knows!
Right after the exhibition, there is a shop where they sell all the merchandising as well as beautiful gifts. We bought for them the book “See inside Ancient Egypt” by Rob Lloyd Jones, an Usborne Flap Book. It was the icing on
the cake, after spending a fabulous morning exploring ancient lives.
You can check it out here: “See Inside Ancient Egypt”
If you want to enjoy the exhibition, go with only one child or take turns with your partner while your children get entertained at the Dig Discovery Zone on level 1, which is free. My daughters absolutely loved it! And we loved it too, as we chilled out on the beanbags for a while.
My three daughters were super busy digging into the sand, discovering new objects, building pyramids with the blocks, etc. Besides, the staff were dressed up as archaeologists! They were helping the children with their excavation progress, which was very cute to see.
The Revamped Wiggles Exhibition
Permanent exhibition. Free for the children with the purchase of an adult ticket.
The Wiggles exhibit has reopened after being refreshed with new content including -of course- memorabilia from Emma and Lachy, the new Wiggles cast.
Some great updates are the interactive “Big Red Car “ and “the Big Screen – Theatre” where children have room to dance. These were the favourites of my children, and I must confess, mine too.
With the support of Transport of NSW, the “Big Red Car” incorporates a message on seatbelt safety featuring the new Wiggles’ song ‘Are you Buckled Up’.
My daughters didn’t want to leave. They buckled up by themselves and watched the Wiggles singing and dancing the new song. (In real life, always remember to check if the seat belts have done the “click” and are not twisted).
Now the “Big Screen-Theatre” shows songs with the new Wiggles cast. Active children cannot stop dancing with the Wiggles. With their catchy songs it’s easy to follow their moves. And the shy, get hypnotized in front of the screen.
Other favourites of my children were:
- The Pirate Boat with Captain Featherword’s telescope. It also has new elements such as lifejackets that kids can try on, books to read and a sensory corner for under 2’s.
- Dorothy the Dinosaur’s house. My daughters loved to play with the tea set. As usual, they spent a fair a bit of time making roses in the craft corner.
- Emma’s screen with her ballet dancing.
- The fruit salad corner and the live-camera screen corner where children can see their reflection.
I always find it very entertaining to watch my girls meanwhile they have so much fun with the Wiggles Exhibition. But in case you get bored, you can read the posts of the Wiggles career. What a journey! They have been entertaining Australian children for more than 20 years!
The Powerhouse Museum – Information
Pram / wheelchair friendly: There are ramps and an elevator. Wheelchairs can be borrowed at no cost from the cloaking desk in the main entrance foyer.
Baby change: Yes.
Cafe: There are two cafes. The MAAS Cafe on Level 3, next to the entrance and the Junction Cafe on Level 1, next to the playground.
Another option is Hannah’s Pies outside the Museum. Address: 562 Harris St, Ultimo NSW 2007
Playground: Yes, not fenced, but it is far away from the road in the courtyard (access on level 1).
Powerhouse Opening hours: 10:00am – 5:00pm. Closed: Christmas Day.
General admission Prices:
- Adult $15
- Children 16 years and under FREE
- NSW Seniors Card holders pension & concessions $8
- Student card holders $8
For priority entry to the Museum: Pre-book your tickets online
Note: Some exhibitions may be ticketed in addition to general admission.
Parking: Metered street parking near the museum, located on Harris St, Macarthur St and nearby streets.
To avoid the inconvenience of extending the time, try the following discounted parking options:
Very important!!! To obtain the discount, your parking ticket must be validated at the designated machine, before returning to the car park. The machine is located in the Museum shop and you can validate the ticket when you purchase the Museum tickets
- Wilson Parking (adjacent to Novotel Sydney Central), 179 Thomas Street, Haymarket. $15 all day parking. Perfect choice if you plan to extent the day in Chinatown or Paddy’s Markets.
- Harbourside Car park, 100 Murray Street, Pyrmont. $14 all day parking. Good choice if you want to spend the rest of the day at Darling Harbour.
Nearest stations: Central Station (Sydney Terminal), Broadway bus station (Railway Square), and Exhibition Centre Sydney Light Rail Station.
Note: from Central Station, it is an easy and safe walk to the Powerhouse Museum via the Goods Line.
Bus stop nearby: 501 stops directly outside the museum.
Things to do before or after visiting the Powerhouse Museum:
Take a stroll along The Goods Line, the pedestrian walkway that goes from the Ultimo Road railway bridge (Central Station) to the Museum’s entrance of Macarthur St, Ultimo.
The Goods Line follows the rail line that ran from Dulwich Hill to Sydney Central. It used to be a busy freight system that transported goods like wool, meat and wheat.
Sections of the old train track have been preserved as well as parts of its original infrastructure such as an early arched sandstone-block culvert or drain.
The Goods Line is an excellent recreational spot that combines heritage with modern urban equipment; there are plenty of benches, study pods, picnic tables, tennis tables and even a sandpit and water play area for the children.
From the water play area you can contemplate the iconic Dr Chau Chak Wing Building, designed by the famous architect Frank Gehry. The public levels of the building are open from 8am-10pm weekdays and 8am-6pm weekends.
There is access via Ultimo Road and Mary Ann Street in Ultimo. Visitors are welcome, but take in mind that classes may be in progress, as it is building from the UTS.
Do some shopping at Paddy’s Markets. You might find some good bargains such as children’s umbrellas, leather belts or beautiful headbands to name some examples.
Ian Thorpe Aquatic Centre is one street behind from the Powerhouse Museum. Take your children for a swim to burn some energy, if it is a rainy day. Here there is Seana’s terrific review: Ian Thorpe Aquatic Centre
Darling Harbour attractions are around the corner from the Powerhouse Museum. For more information: Darling Harbour
Mum’s report: Since we have been living here in Sydney, the Powerhouse Museum has been our “Sundays lifesaver”, if the weather is miserable.
The Wiggles Exhibition is always a win-win for little children and parents. It has been revamped, so it is even better!! Besides of the Wiggles, the Powerhouse has lots to offer for older children, too, like several workshops from ages 7-11.
There are permanent exhibitions like “Experimentations” for the science lovers, or the always-entertaining area of trains, planes and my favourite: the Zero Gravity Space Lab.
If you are coming from interstate or you need a staycation, check this post with very helpful information: Where to stay in Sydney with kids
Visit the Museums Discovery Centre
172 Showground Road, Castle Hill NSW 2154
The Museums Discovery Centre is full of interesting elements!!! Although it is not as big as the Power House Museum, you can easily spend a morning in there.
There are 6 different rooms / stores where you can find from trains to planes, to fire engines, to domestic appliances and toys.
The store number 4 houses multiple objects that scientists used in the field and in the lab such as instruments for measuring. There is also equipment that Antarctic explorers used in the past. Besides the objects, there are animals, fossils and gemstones.
Children with a sense of curiosity will definitively enjoy this Museum! Adults, too! It is a like travelling back to the past or having a look at the old photos of our grandparents’ albums.
During school holidays there are free activities for the children. My daughters had a great time and the staff that were running the workshops were lovely.
For more information: Museum Discovery Centre
Consider becoming a member. Click on the link, if you are interested in to find out the advantages: Becoming a member
Some of the highlights are:
- FREE Entry to all special exhibitions at the Powerhouse Museum, Sydney Observatory and the Museums Discovery Centre for up to 4 Members (2 adults and 2 children, or 1 adult and 3 children)
- Priority booking for programs like school holiday program, Sydney Science Festival and Sydney Design Festival
- Exclusive access to Member’s Lounge at the Powerhouse Museum with complimentary tea, coffee and refreshments
We are not members yet, but it is something that we should consider after having spent some great days in the Powerhouse Museum.