Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Powerhouse Museum (Sydney)

May 7th, 2006:

I had intended upon visiting Sydney's biggest museum yesterday, but felt too relaxed after the Chinese gardens to face walking around for half a day at least around a museum, but I came back to Darling Harbor refreshed for the trek today.

So, today's exploration was of the Powerhouse Museum. This museum has a mere 380,000 things to see and at any one time only a fraction of that is on display depending on what themed-exhibits they set up. Despite there being only a fraction available, I still spent over four hours there and at that I did not stop to read any of the descriptions next to each item: it was more of a frantic brisk walk around just to see what "little" they had on show that day.

So, on walking in, there was the "Design throughout the ages" exhibit which showed how design had evolved over the centuries with original furniture, dresses and jewelry. I did not spend much time here as (amazingly) jewelry and dresses do not interest me much(!)

However, something in the next section was facinating: they had the world's oldest existing steam engine. This engine was not a locomotive engine as it predated trains(!): it was used to extract things from coal mines and was the third wheel-turning engine ever created. Even more surprising was that it still works and there are regular demonstrations in the museum of the steam engine turning a big wheel attached to it.

Next to the Watt steam engine was another interesting item: a model of the cathedral clock in Strasborg. At regular intervals, based on the timing mechanisms in the clock, little characters would move around the clock structure.

Other sections in the museum were the Space exhibit(satellites, rocket parts, replicas of space ships, etc), the automotive items (old trains and old & new cars), the Cyber exhibit (everything from an early TV and original Enigma machine to modern robotics), the chemistry exhibit, and too many others to mention.

There was even a temporary Kylie Minogue exhibition which was arranged like a darkened art gallery. On show was the singer's photo shoots, the actual dresses from the videos (I nearly missed the "Spinning Around" dress, it was so compact!) and even had a row of her actual awards, including Grammys, EMIs, MTV awards, platinum disk awards, etc.

As you enter the museum you can get a yearly membership which costs 60 dollars (as opposed to the once off 10 dollars entrance fee) and I had wondered upon entering first if you would really come back multiple times to the place. Well, I don't wonder any more: as it was, I barely saw the current range of items on show: as the exhibits change every couple of weeks I may find myself coming back again, and again, and...