The Powerhouse Museum with Young Kids
The Powerhouse Museum is a strange combination of exhibits and displays. It’s taken me a while to work out what the “ethos” of the Museum is. It has a bit of transport to it, then some space and then the high energy Wiggles Display.
The Powerhouse Museum with Young Kids
On our previous visit to the Powerhouse Museum we incorporated it into a visit of Darling Harbour and Circular Quay which was just crazy. You can never ever fit that much in to one day and should not even try. Anyway, I was determined to explore the Powerhouse Museum on this visit and to try work out what connects everything in it.
If you’re visiting the Powerhouse keep it just to that activity, don’t try and incorporate it into much else as it will be too overwhelming for the kids.
Where is the Powerhouse Museum
Location and Address
The Powerhouse Museum is in Ultimo, just east of the City and around the corner from Darling Harbour.
The official address is 500 Harris St, Ultimo.
If you’re wanting to use public transport:
- the 501 bus stops directly outside the museum
- you can take the ferry to Darling Harbout but I’ve done that walk with two children and I’m not sure I would do it again.
There is on street ticketed parking on Harris Street and Macarthur Streets but it is extremely limited and I would be amazed if you managed to get on street parking.
For $15 you can park at either Wilson Parking on 179 Thomas Street, Haymarket or the Harbourside Car Park at 100 Murray Street Pyrmont. BUT, you will have to have your ticket validated at the Museum Shop.
Powerhouse Museum Features
There are a series of permanent exhibitions and then some temporary exhibitions that change from time to time.
1. The Wiggles
This is possibly the biggest drawcard for Australian children. It is packed with Wiggles memorabilia, photos and activities.
The children can visit Dorothy the Dinosaur at her home, ride on the big red car, sail aboard Captain Featherswords Ship.
There is so much to do in this section alone that you could spend an hour or more there.
The only problem with this section of the museum is that it is extremely overwhelming, there is almost too much to take it and it is quite loud.
For me, this was the most incredible part of the Museum and it doesn’t even get a mention on the Powerhouse Museum website.
Walking through this section was incredibly interesting, not only from what the Museum houses but the diversity of what they have. There are American references, Russian References, reconstructions of some incredible satellites.
In one section you get to walk into an anti-gravity space. While it is not actually antigravity it gives you an understanding of the feeling. It is so realistic that it makes me a little queasy even thinking about it.
Until I visited this section, I didn’t realise how much of my understanding of space exploration was based on America’s influence. This gives you a greater insight into the Russian influence.
3. Trains and Cars
Front and center is Locomotive 1. Locomotive number one is the machine that pulled Australia’s very first train. It has been beautifully maintained and is on proud display.
There is a train the kids can and lots of different size cars to look at – big cars, model cars, old cars and some even older cars.
4. Mars Yard
The Mars Yard is really cool! In the background is a blown up picture from Mars and in the foreground is a made up Mars surface. It is a recreation of Mars together with a few robots.
If you visit during the week go see the Mars Yard to check whether the robotic rovers are in action. There is a lab right next door to the yard where some scientists or engineers are hard at work.
5. The playground
In the courtyard outside are a few playing structures. These aren’t really toddler friendly but if you’ve got an active pre-schooler they will be sure to enjoy it.
Other places to visit in the Powerhouse Museum
Be sure to check out the tinkering zone with the kids so that they can play around. Here they can become little engineers or artists as they play, explore and invent.
– Steam Revolution
This big section of the Powerhouse Museum deals with various aspects of steam. There are 12 big steam engines and some interactive areas. This section is loud and vibrant and seems really good.
– The Lab
In “The Lab” kids can play with various multimedia tools. There are big screens on the floor and walls that you can change remotely with your hands or via the screen panel next to the screen.
This is one of the places that is meant to be great for kids but I’m not a fan. It kept the kids attention for maybe half a second but maybe your kids are more creative than mine.
This section is all about the science behind climat change and global waring.
Here the kids can learn about sustainability by looking into an eco-friendly home or trying to manage the Sydney water grid.
Powerhouse Museum Facilities
There are toilets on ground (in the courtyard), levels 1, 2 and 4. Each of these do have baby changing facilities.
All areas of the museum are wheelchair accessible either by ramp or by way of the lift.
There are two cafes where you can get food – on levels 1 and 3.
There is also free wi-fi throughout the museum and its cafes. You will just have to sign in as a MAAS visitor.
Museum of Applied Arts and Science
The Powerhouse Museum falls under the umbrella of the Museum of Applied Arts and Science (MAAS). The other museum that falls under this is the Observatory Museum. You may see reference to Museum Discovery Centers which is a collaboration between MAAS, Australian Museum and the Sydney Living Museums.
If you haven’t visited the Australian Museum with your kids you definitely should. Here is a link to our review of the Australian Museum with all the need-to-know information to help you plan your visit.
Opening Hours and Tickets
The Powerhouse Museum is open daily from 10am to 5pm. It is however closed on Christmas.
It is free for children 16 years and younger.
Adults are $15
Pensioners and students are $8 but you will have to show your pension, concession or student card
Some of the exhibitions will require an additional payment.
Sydney is home to other great museums. Have a look at one of the other museums we have visited for some more ideas.