Decade of discoveries as Newcastle Museum notches up 10 years at Honeysuckle

03 Aug 2021

It's welcomed almost 1.5 million visitors, won 20 state and national awards, displayed 71 exhibitions and held thousands of special events – but after a decade at Honeysuckle there's still more to discover at Newcastle Museum.

Today marks the 10th anniversary since the Museum opened its doors at Honeysuckle after transforming the former Railway Workshops into a state-of-the-art cultural facility.

Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said Newcastle Museum is one of the jewels in the city's cultural crown.

“Newcastle Museum plays a key role in the rich diversity of experiences that help attract visitors to our city," Cr Nelmes said.

"The award-winning Museum is on the cutting edge of contemporary museum practice and has been nationally recognised for its innovative exhibitions, which create insightful and immersive ways to interpret and preserve our city’s fascinating history.

"Upgrading and expanding this critical facility through its move to Honeysuckle saw the Museum become a cornerstone of the wider Civic cultural precinct.

"I'm proud to see how much it has achieved during the past 10 years and I can't wait to experience what else it has in store during the next decade and beyond."

Newcastle Museum Director Julie Baird said it had been amazing to see the transformation both within the Museum's Heritage-listed buildings and in the surrounding landscape over the years.

“The Museum’s transformation will continue following the mass planting of various native tree species in four sections of Museum Park yesterday as part of the Museum's Living Labels project, Ms Baird said.

“The trees and shrubs planted relate directly to objects within the Museum’s collection and offer a new way to interpret and understand Newcastle’s geography and history, providing a living connection between the natural landscape and the stories of our past.

“We plan to celebrate the Museum’s significant milestone with activities across the next 12 months, kicking off with a 10th anniversary exhibition showcasing specially commissioned works by much-loved local artist Trevor Dickinson, whose colourful, larger-than-life murals including the Newcastle Museum Photowall have formed such an intrinsic part of the Museum and its surrounds.

"Newcastle Museum is a celebration of our city and we are a significant element of the lives and identity of Newcastle's people.

"Newcastle Museum is committed to telling the stories of both ordinary and extraordinary Novocastrians through our collections, exhibitions, and audience engagement - this is who we are, where we've come from and where we're going.

"This facility plays a major role in Newcastle, not just as a tourist attraction but as an inclusive and accessible space that educates, entertains and benefits the community in so many ways."

Among those who have benefitted from the Museum since it moved to Honeysuckle is 10-year-old Sebastian Skrynnik, whose parents immigrated to Newcastle from Russia and have been taking him to the Museum since he was a baby.

"We've shared a lot of great memories inside these walls," Sebastian said.

"It's where I came a few times a week as we couldn’t afford to go to preschool or playgroups – but the museum gave me a place that had everything I needed. I remember playing here with so many different kids, exploring and learning.

"My parents came to Australia to give me a better life, and what they found for us was a new family and a community that's part of my life now."

The Museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 10am to 5pm. Current exhibitions include the self-curated The Castanet Club: an exhibition you can dance to! and a travelling exhibition from the Monash Gallery of Art showcasing the work of John Gollings, Australia’s pre-eminent photographer of the built environmentCoincidentally, Gollings was commissioned to photograph the Museum when it was first opened at Honeysuckle.

Newcastle Museum Fast Facts

  • Newcastle Museum was established in 1988 in the restored former Castlemaine Brewery in Newcastle West as a major Bicentennial project.
  • It temporarily closed in 2008 to allow for its shift to the former Honeysuckle Railways Workshops, which were the original preferred site for the Museum.
  • The relocation involved the major refurbishment of the three existing Heritage-listed railway buildings. The Locomotive Boiler Shop is now home to Supernova, the New Erecting Shop is home to Fire and Earth, and the Blacksmith’s and Wheel Shop now house enclosed exhibition spaces and the theatrette. A new Link Building was constructed to form a connection between these spaces and contains the main public foyer and orientation spaces.
  • The Museum re-opened on 4 August 2011. In the first six months it welcomed 100,000 visitors through the doors to explore the innovative and interactive new displays including the drama of the Fire and Earth show, which interprets the excitement, colour and noise of the steel making process and remains the Museum's most popular permanent exhibit today.
  • In the past 10 years, Newcastle Museum has welcomed 1,423,972 visitors, accepted 2,615 object donations, won 20 state and national awards including the 2021 Museums and Galleries National Award and displayed 71 exhibitions across a diverse range of topic areas.
  • The Museum welcomed its one millionth visitor to the Honeysuckle site in October 2017.