HMAS Vampire (1956) by Cockatoo Island Dockyard, Sydney NSWAustralian National Maritime Museum
8 cultural must-sees in Australia’s most diverse city
As one of the most diverse cities in Oceania, Sydney enjoys an eclectic arts & culture scene. In addition to Sydney’s cultural institutions, this city also has plenty of museums highlighting Australia’s rich scientific heritage.
Below, let’s take a peek at some of “The Harbor City’s” cultural and historic attractions.
1. Hop aboard a historic ship at the Australian National Maritime Museum
HMAS Vampire (From the collection of Australian National Maritime Museum)
Besides touring these famous Australian ships, the National Maritime Museum encourages guests to explore its collection of 140,000 artifacts from Australia’s seafaring past and present.
World Map tracing the journey of KATHLEEN GILLETT (1947 – 1948) by HEC Robinson Pty LtdAustralian National Maritime Museum
World Map tracing the journey of KATHLEEN GILLETT (From the collection of Australian National Maritime Museum)
2. Space, steam, and the Strasburg Clock at the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences (MAAS)
Photoheliograph telescope (1873) by Janssen and De La RuePowerhouse Museum
Photoheliograph telescope (From the collection of Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences)
Governor's railway carriage (1891) by New South Wales Department of RailwaysPowerhouse Museum
Governor’s railway carriage (From the collection of Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences)
One of MAAS’s most popular attractions remains the 19th-century Strasburg Clock. Built by a Sydney native, this ornate clock plays music and tells the story of the New Testament six minutes before every hour.
Strasburg clock model by Richard Bartholomew Smith (1887) by Richard BartholomewPowerhouse Museum
Strasburg clock model by Richard Bartholomew Smith (From the collection of Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences)
3. An old library enters the digital age at the State Library of New South Wales
State Library of New South Wales
Card Catalogue (1880)State Library of New South Wales
Card Catalogue (From the collection of State Library of New South Wales)
4. Australia’s home for the performing arts: Sydney Opera House
One night a month after opening (1973) by Max Dupain, State Library of New South WalesSydney Opera House
One night a month after opening (From the collection of Sydney Opera House)
To this day, the largest music event here was Crowded House’s 1996 “Farewell to the World” outdoor concert, which drew in at least 100,000 fans. In 2016, Crowded House reunited for four special sold-out shows also by the Sydney Opera House.
Sydney Opera House
Besides musical events, the Sydney Opera House is also a big deal in the bodybuilding community. It was here in 1980 that Arnold Schwarzenegger won his last Mr. Olympia title.
5. Preserving the Pacific flora & fauna at the Australian Museum
Popular exhibits at this museum with foreign visitors include “Surviving Australia” and “Our First Australians.” In “Surviving Australia,” guests learn all about Australia’s deadliest creatures. The “Our First Australians” gallery, on the other hand, highlights indigenous Australian art and artifacts.
Weedy Seadragon by John TurnbullAustralian Museum
Weedy Seadrago (From the collection of Australian Museum)
6. Sensational sculptures on sandy shores at Sculpture by the Sea – Bondi
tony's tower II (created 2014; exhibited Sculpture by the Sea Bondi 2014) by Ron Robertson-SwannSculpture by the Sea - Bondi
tony’s tower II, by Ron Robertson-Swann, created 2014; exhibited Sculpture by the Sea Bondi 2014 (From the collection of Sculpture by the Sea – Bondi)
red trumpet (created 2014; exhibited Sculpture by the Sea Bondi 2014) by Philip SpelmanSculpture by the Sea - Bondi
red trumpet (From the collection of Sculpture by the Sea – Bondi)
Indeed, the demand for Sculpture by the Sea is so high that it has inspired similar festivals in Perth’s Cottesloe Beach and in the Danish city Aarhus.
Tony's Tower II (2014) by Ron Robertson-SwannSculpture by the Sea - Cottesloe
Tony’s Tower II, Ron Robertson-Swann, 2014 (From the collection of Sculpture by the Sea – Cottesloe)
7. Showcasing new voices in Australian art: Museum of Contemporary Art Australia
The Gallery A Years (1970-2009) by Peter KennedyMuseum of Contemporary Art Australia
The Gallery A Years, by Peter Kennedy 1970-2009 (From the collection of Museum of Contemporary Art Australia)
Second Hand Political (1995) by Hany ArmaniousMuseum of Contemporary Art Australia
Second Hand Political, by Hany Armanious, 1995 (From the collection of Museum of Contemporary Art Australia)
MCA Australia is particularly proud of its strong First Peoples department. MCA staff members regularly collaborate with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities on art exhibitions as well as learning events where guests can better appreciate indigenous artistry and languages.
8. From prison complex to artistic center: Sydney National Art School
Musicians (1958) by Colin LanceleyNational Art School, Sydney
Musicians, 1958, Colin Lanceley (From the collection of National Art School, Sydney)
In recent years, this school has trained numerous first-rate contemporary artists including fashion designer Alex Perry and photographer Max Dupain.
Concert Hall, Northern Foyer (1973) by Max DupainSydney Opera House
Concert Hall, Northern Foyer, by Max Dupain, 1973 (From the collection of Sydney Opera House)
Believe it or not, the building that now houses the National Art School once served as a prison called Darlinghurst Gaol. Architecture enthusiasts will find many historic buildings to marvel over while touring this campus.
Chapel Stained Glass (1873) by Darlinghurst GaolNational Art School, Sydney
Chapel Stained Glass, Darlinghurst Gaol, 1873 (From the collection of National Art School, Sydney)
Sydney’s economic power and ideal trading location has always attracted people from around the globe. Thanks to this diversity, Sydney now boasts one of the world’s most eclectic arts scenes that’s well worth a visit.
Explore more about Sydney.