Museums Discovery Centre: All You Need To Know To Plan A Visit

Museums Discovery Centre

Located in Castle Hill, the Museums Discovery Centre (MDC) is one of the three sites of the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences (MAAS).

MDC reopened in 2016 after a two-year $33.6 million upgrade.

Museums Discovery Centre exhibits
Interesting old vehicles at the Museums Discovery Centre

“Visiting the Museums Discovery Centre is an experience like no other offered in Australia. Many of the items in the display stores have never been exhibited before, and there are many more treasures to be seen by taking a booked tour through the deep stores where the museum staff work day to day.”

MAAS Director Dolla Merrilees, News Local / Hills Shire-Times September 13, 2016

Museums Discovery Centre Castle Hill inside
Miss 4 year old had a great time trying to find the bunnies following the “Bunnikins Discovery Trail”.

The collection has grown to over 500,000 objects since MAAS was founded in 1879. As a result of the collaboration between the Museum of Applied Arts, the Australian Museum and Sydney Living Museums, you will have the chance to see objects from all these museums in one place.

Museums Discovery Centre inside view
Although Miss 4 year old cannot read yet, she was very interested in finding the objects that she saw in the museum on the screen.

If you have never visited MDC, it is more a storage facility open to the public than a typical museum. 

MDC brings the collection to light through visible storage, and for this reason, it is displayed on industrial shelving and pallets.

The Museums Discovery Centre

Address: 172 Showground Rd, Castle Hill NSW 2154

MDC website here

Opening hours: Monday to Friday, 10:00 am – 5:00 pm, last entry at 4.00pm.

Closed Public Holidays and during the Christmas break until the second week of January.

Please, check these details with the MDC as they can change.

General admission prices 2019:

Adult: $10

Children (16 years and under): FREE

Concession: $8

Student cardholders: $8

Free stuff:

Highlights Tour from one of MDC volunteers, Monday – Friday at 11:30am

By Mireia Garriga Seguranyes

The Museums Discovery Centre (MDC) is a special place. It is like going to a warehouse full of treasures from the past.  Although it is not as big as other museums from Sydney, you can easily spend a morning in there.

My daughters and I have been at the MDC several times. When we went to the MDC with my parents, my father loved the old cars; mum -who used to be a teacher- liked the school display of store number 5, per example; and, Miss 4 year old enjoyed opening the different drawers. There is something for everyone!

5,000 objects are showcased across six stores. It is an eclectic collection, showcasing engineering, architecture, science, art, transport, fashion, design, health, technology, domestic life, indigenous and Pacific cultures, and more.

Store 1 contains decorative arts from various countries and cultures. The talent and skills of some of the world’s best designers are showcased in this store.

Store 2 shows the evolution of technology that changed our lives, from the industrial age to the present day. You can see a big display of cameras, computers, telephones, radios, televisions, printing presses, etc.

Store 3 is dedicated to the modes of transport. There are planes, cars, a tram, a locomotive, and much more!

Store 4 focuses on natural sciences with elements from the MAAS and Australian Museum collections such as a dolphin skeleton and a replica of a Giganotosaurus skull. This store also houses a multitude of objects collected and used by scientists.

Store 5 displays the evolution of domestic appliances and daily life situations / places in New South Wales.

And, Store 6 exhibits 19th Century Australian architecture from the collection of Sydney Living Museums and the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences.

Some families think that the MDC could have more interactive elements for engaging the kids. However, my daughters had always spent a great time. They loved to follow the “Bunnikins Discovery Trail” that took them to several stores. And, for the older kids, there is also an “Adventurer Logbook”. Therefore, fun is guaranteed for kids that generally enjoy museums.

Despite the computer screens are not designed for young kids, Miss 4 year old was very interested in trying to “match” what she was observing with the images on the screen. In fact, in the museum, you can use the tags attached to the objects or the touch screens to find out more.

Although there isn’t any playground, the net pyramid can keep the kids entertained for a while. And, it is next to a spacious grassed area with some benches and platforms. Shade is limited, but for the sunny days, you can head to the undercover area that has lots of tables, a fountain and a block of toilets, situated next to the Museum entrance. Therefore, if you plan ahead, you don’t need to spend much, you can have a picnic on the grass or use the tables.

Museums Discovery Centre Castle Hill
Wow, this locomotive is so big!
Museums Discovery Centre Castle Hill
You can find all types of toys, from this astronaut collection to a set of barbies dressed with different uniforms from Qantas

Toilets with Baby change: Yes 

Cafe: No

Pram + wheelchair friendly: Yes

Mum’s report: The Museums Discovery Centre  is full of interesting objects! Although it is not a big museum, you can easily spend a morning in there. Children with a sense of curiosity will definitively enjoy this Museum. And, adults, too! It is like travelling back to the past or having a look at the old photos of our grandparents’ albums.

If you are looking for a budget friendly place or a half-day activity, MDC is a great place to go with the family, especially during the school holidays.

Extra:  The MDC also provides the rare opportunity to visit the interior of the warehouses, aka “Deep store admission”. These tours are not recommended for children under 12.

To book one of these tours, simply call 9217 0111. Let the museum know what you are most excited to see and its staff and volunteers can tailor your experience.

Museums Discovery Centre
Look at the dinosaur jaw!
 Museums Discovery Centre entrance
The Museums Discovery Centre is a special place. It is like going to a warehouse full of “treasures” from the past

Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences (MAAS) is the Australia’s contemporary museum for excellence and innovation in applied arts and sciences, established in 1879. Venues include the Powerhouse Museum (click on the Hello Sydney Kids review here ) and Sydney Observatory. 

Australian Museum (AM) is the nation’s first museum.

Sydney Living Museums cares for a group of 12 important historic houses, gardens and museums in New South Wales.  

Nearest station: Showground 

Bus stop nearby: Showground Road, 610, 610X and 619 routes.

Tip: if you are using the Opal app, enter “TAFE NSW The Hills College” instead of “Museums Discovery Centre”.

Directions and parking:

  • Entry to the Museums Discovery Centre: it is via the TAFE gate on Green Road, just off Showground Road.
  • Tip for an easy access: take Showground Road from Windsor Road. The entrance should be on your left hand side, and so you can turn left without any dramas.
  • Important: the entrance on Windsor Road is only for buses and trucks.
  • There is limited free parking onsite at the Museums Discovery Centre. Drive through the TAFE and enter the Discovery Centre grounds, following the arrows to the Main Entrance and park near the Windmill.
  • Note: free overflow parking is also available in the TAFE car park.

The Museums Discovery Centre was a pleasant surprise, specially the first time we visited it with my parents.

It is an excellent place to visit for all generations of the family.

Museums Discovery centre
Miss 4 year old very busy opening drawers full of toys
Museums Discovery Centre climbing net
Although there isn’t any playground, the net pyramid can keep the kids entertained for a while. And, it is next to a grassed area with some benches / platforms where you can have a picnic.
Museums Discovery Centre
Besides the grassed area there is a spacious area with plenty of tables, a fountain and toilets. There isn’t any cafe in the museum but if you plan ahead, you can bring your own food.

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