Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences (MAAS), Sydney

Identity area



Authorized form of name

Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences (MAAS), Sydney

Parallel form(s) of name

Other form(s) of name

  • Technological, Industrial and Sanitary Museum, 1880–1889
  • Technology Museum, 1890–1945
  • Museum of Technology and Applied Sciences, 1945–1950
  • Powerhouse Museum


  • State

Contact area





Street address

500 Harris Street, Ultimo




New South Wales

Country name

Postal code



02 9217 0458



Description area


The Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences (MAAS) was founded in 1880 as the Technological, Industrial and Sanitary Museum following the highly-successful Sydney International Exhibition of 1879.

It became a separate government agency in 1945 through the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences Act 1945 (NSW). The Act identified two main collecting areas:

  • objects demonstrating the ‘industrial advance of civilisation’ and
  • those promoting ‘craftsmanship and artistic taste’.

Since then the collection development policy has been reviewed a number of times so that the collecting focus now relates to the following areas: technologies; health and medicine; physical sciences; architecture and the built environment; design and decorative arts; fashion; and contemporary culture.

The museum is a publicly funded institution governed by the Act and a board of Trustees. It is a statutory body in the New South Wales Department of Justice, responsible to the Minister for the Arts.

Geographical and cultural context

As a state-based institution, the museum has a focus on the State of New South Wales.

Mandates/Sources of authority

Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences Act 1945 (NSW)

Administrative structure

The Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences operates three sites:

  • the Powerhouse Museum (opened 1988),
  • Sydney Observatory (transferred 1982), and
  • the Museums Discovery Centre in Castle Hill (acquired 1947) now operated cooperatively with the Australian Museum and Sydney Living Museums.

The office of the Archivist is located at the Powerhouse Museum. The Museum Archives is part of Strategic Collections, which reports to the Director of Curatorial, Collections and Exhibitions.

Records management and collecting policies

For a list of relevant museum policies including the Archives Policy and Collection Development Policy, see


The Archivist is located in the Harwood Building, adjacent to the Powerhouse Museum. There is a dedicated Research Room next to the Archivist’s office. The Museum’s Research Library as well as the Photo Library are in the immediate vicinity.


Institutional archives dating from 1880 include correspondence files, minute books, stockbooks, papers of Directors and scientific staff, exhibition records, audiovisual productions, photographs, oral history tapes, museum publications, etc.

Collected archives include:

  • the papers of aeronautics pioneer Lawrence Hargrave; aviators Lores Bonney and C Arthur Butler;
  • contemporary Australian designers including Gordon Andrews, Douglas Annand, Richard Beck, Dahl & Geoffrey Collings, Max Forbes, Gerard Herbst, Linda Jackson, Richard Haughton James, Jenny Kee, Margaret Lord, Mercedes Australian Fashion Week, Marc Newson, Dorothy & Rhoda Wager, Fred Ward, Mary White, Ken Done and Derek Wrigley;
  • records of manufacturers Berlei Ltd, Speedo, Buzacott & Co, Tooth & Co, Victa, F T Wimble & Co. and Wunderlich Ltd;
  • innovators such as Charles Beauvais (automobile design), George Brooks (SILLIAC computer), Evelyn Owen (machine gun), Henry Setright (totalisators) and Roy Wells (totalisators);
  • commercial photographers Henry Talbot, David Mist, Robert Rosen and Bruno Benini.

Finding aids, guides and publications

Unpublished guides and inventories are available in hard copy and digitally for much of the collection. Please contact the Archivist for details.

Access area

Opening times

Open Monday to Friday 9am-5pm by appointment.
Closed on public holidays.

Access conditions and requirements

Public access to the Museum’s Archives is by appointment only. Researchers are required to complete an application form when accessing the archives. Contact the Archivist for further details.


The museum seeks to make its collection physically and intellectually accessible to those with disabilities.

Services area

Research services

Limited research assistance available.

Reproduction services

Digital photography for private research and study is allowed in most situations. Where a copy request is for other purposes, the request will be referred to the Museum’s Rights and Permissions Officer. Photocopying is not permitted.

Public areas

Kitchen and lounge facilities are available for use by researchers.

Control area

Description identifier

Institution identifier

Rules and/or conventions used


Level of detail

Dates of creation, revision and deletion

Revised 12 April 2018




Maintenance notes

Access points

Access Points

  • Arts and Culture (Thematic area)
  • Built Environment (Thematic area)
  • Indigenous (Thematic area)
  • Industry, Manufacturing and Commerce (Thematic area)
  • Medicine and Health (Thematic area)
  • Recreation / Leisure / Sports (Thematic area)
  • Science and Technology (Thematic area)
  • Transportation (Thematic area)
  • Travel and Exploration (Thematic area)
  • Clipboard

Primary contact

500 Harris Street, Ultimo
Sydney, New South Wales 2007