Powerhouse Museum of Sydney

The Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences of Sydney is located in an old powerhouse in the central neighbourhood of Ultimo, a few steps away from the touristic Darling Harbour. The large, red brick building hosts a range of exhibitions, and is one of the key tourist attractions of the city. The main interest of the museum for textile aficionados is its permanent collection of fashion, accessories, and textiles of Australian as well as European origins.
The museum’s world famous shoe collection includes over 800 pairs, the oldest created in the 16th century. The collection reveals the development of shoe making techniques in Europe, but also displays precious items of native Australian origins. The interplay between European heritage and local materials and techniques manifest the complex cultural history of the region.
Similarly, the jewellery collection demonstrates the impressive know-how of Australian designers who are using local materials like opal stone, as well as new technologies of 3D printing to create innovative designs.
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2011/35/1 Bracelet, ‘Java-la-Grande. India, Goa, Indo-Portuguese, circa second quarter of the 16th century (?)’, silver-gilt wire / paint / iron / plastic / wood, designed and made by Robert Baines, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, 2004-2005.
This year, the Powerhouse launched a new initiative to enhance the Australian fashion and textile sectors. The museum opened a new centre for fashion that proposes a new hub for creativity in the region. It is the first public initiative in Australia to celebrate excellence in fashion. Through exhibitions, designer residencies, public events, fellowships, publications, and research, the centre aims to attract fashion and textile designers from all over the world.
Textile research will be an integral part of the work at the centre. The relations between matter and ideas in fashion will be the main subject of studies and research, involving fashion professionals and academics alike. The centre’s activities will bring together fashion professionals and the general public, to emphasise the contribution of the fashion world to Australia’s culture and industry.
Thus, the centre hopes to celebrate the creativity of local designers, in collaboration with leading designers and scholars from the rest of the world. Jean-Paul Gaultier has already given his blessing to the initiative, which will open officially in 2016 with the first exhibition focusing on the iconic Australian designer, Collette Dinnigan.
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Cover Photo: P.6082/1 ‘Tiara’, aluminium, tin, by Fiona Hall, Sydney, Australia, early 1990s, shot in the Powerhouse Museum Photography Studio on 10th February 2014 by Geoff Friend for the ‘Jewellery in Australia’ exhibition. This is one of 36x sequential images shot on a 1.2 metre 3D turntable for an interactive web effect.