Museums of History NSW
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Museums of History NSW is changing the way our past is understood and our future will be experienced.This ‘home’ for the history of NSW brings together the historic houses, museums and collections previously in the care of Sydney Living Museums with the vast archives and records in the NSW State Archives Collection.
Dedicated to engaging people in our past, Museums of History NSW provides greater access to these assets and to a broad range of stories about our social, cultural and political histories and identities.
- Hyde Park Barracks: A UNESCO World Heritage site in the heart of contemporary Sydney, the Hyde Park Barracks is an extraordinary record of the living legacy of colonial Australia. Originally built to house convicts, the Barracks also served as a women’s immigration depot and asylum, and later law courts and government offices. Today this immersive museum tells the stories of the thousands of men, women and children held or housed there, and the Aboriginal communities profoundly impacted by the relentless push of colonial expansion.
- Vaucluse House: When an Irish knight was caught kidnapping a local heiress, his punishment was swift: exile to a single-storey cottage in NSW. Over five decades, new owners transformed the cottage into a large and picturesque estate. By the 1830s, the gardens and grounds covered most of the present-day suburb of Vaucluse but the main house of the family’s dreams was still unfinished. In 1915 Vaucluse House became Australia’s first official house museum, and continues today to delight and intrigue visitors with its stories and still-secluded grounds.
- Justice & Police Museum: Step into Sydney’s dark side. Crooks and cops, locals and drifters, the guilty and the innocent have all left their stories here. Originally a police station and courts, the museum draws you into a world of crime, policing and punishment, from bushrangers and razor gangs to the future of forensics. In a city that’s grown out from the harbour, the waterfront has always been a place of misadventure and misdemeanour.
- Susannah Place: Much of Sydney was built by immigrants, and this terrace of four tiny houses stands as a resilient reminder. Nestled in the heart of Sydney’s famous Rocks district, it has been home to more than 100 families over 150 years. Built by Irish immigrants in 1844, it has survived largely unchanged through the slum clearances and redevelopments of the past century, and today tells the stories of the working families who called this place and this neighbourhood home.
- Elizabeth Bay House: With harbour views, sweeping staircases and spectacular landscaped gardens, Elizabeth Bay House was Sydney’s ultimate trophy home. Built for colonial secretary Alexander Macleay, after the governor, the most important public official in Sydney, it was by all accounts the finest house in the colony. Yet it tells a familiar story: of ambition and passion, of riches to ruin.