Our work

We keep the properties and collections in our care safe and bring the past alive through programs and activities such as education, interpretation and research, exhibitions, events, festivals and publications. We also operate the only public library and research collection in Australia devoted to the history of architecture, gardens and interiors.

Acknowledgement of Country

Our museums and places are on Aboriginal land. We acknowledge the First Nations Peoples, the traditional custodians, and we pay respect to the Elders, past and present, and extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. We understand and appreciate that Aboriginal peoples have deep and continuing cultural attachment to Country and are the rightful interpreters of their history and heritage. In this spirit SLM values the diversity of Aboriginal connections to the places and landscapes we care for and are informed by the Aboriginal cultural heritage and identity that underpins our museums and places. This recognition guides the ways in which we create contemporary conversations and experiences at each of our sites.


A living future for the past


To cherish, protect and share our places and stories


We exist so that people can experience Sydney’s past as if they had lived it themselves: to live a whole other life.


Complementing NSW Public Sector Values, we are:

  • Authentic
  • Bold
  • Collaborative
  • Passionate
  • A sociable host

Our commitment to our audience is to maintain the museums, landscapes and collections with integrity whilst presenting the narrative of each in contemporary, compelling and relevant ways.

Our Goals

Experience and Engagement

A leader in the delivery of tailored visitor experiences that reflect the unique narrative of each of the SLM sites, and are contemporary, relevant and compelling.

Each will:

  • Enhance the profile and reach of SLM programs to local, regional and international audiences
  • Strengthen organisational resilience to deliver excellent customer service and a sense of common purpose amongst staff and volunteers, and respond to the changing demographics of NSW
  • Deliver projects that promote aboriginal reconciliation and cultural diversity

Soft Furnishings Group volunteer at dining room table, Elizabeth Bay House. Photograph © Haley Richardson and Stuart Miller for Sydney Living Museums

Collaboration and Partnerships

An outwardly engaged organisation which nurtures relationships to deliver dynamic, challenging and intellectually relevant programs and experiences.

Each will:

  • Develop systems for co-creation and co-curation partnerships, and foster a workplace culture that supports this
  • Deliver a multi-faceted program of exhibition, program and on-line projects which offer indepth content and experiences
  • Deliver collaborative projects in partnership with the other State Cultural Institutions, academic, government and private sector organisations
  • Build Sydney’s cultural capital by supporting the education, leisure and tourism sectors

RATS at the Hyde Park Barracks Museum where Kinross Wolaroi School students are participating in the Rats: Convict Tales education program. Photo © James Horan for Sydney Living Museums


A leader in culturally activated heritage assets, which will:

  • Deliver experiences which deepen connections with places and their history
  • Focus on placemaking to interpret the physical, social and emotional experience of our cultural heritage
  • Establish an inspiring vision for Sydney’s Macquarie Street, Bridge Street and Circular Quay precincts and for the Rouse Hill Estate and regional park and Elizabeth Farm and the wider plan for Parramatta

Rouse Hill House, Rouse Hill House & Farm. Photo © James Horan for Sydney Living Museums

Heritage and Curatorship

To bring a considered and thoughtful approach to revealing the contemporary currency in places and things, we will:

  • Realise the Hyde Park Barracks Museum and Sydney Crime Museum interpretative masterplans, enabled by the Heritage Floor Space program with the City of Sydney
  • Become the leader in the research, documentation, conservation, presentation and interpretation in two key strands – Sydney’s convict story and modernist Australian domestic architecture
  • Enable the potential of SLM’s site-specific collections to engage online audiences and drive museum visitation through: extending online access to collection databases, completing digitisation projects and delivering a range of collection-wide interpretation projects
  • Reveal how the Aboriginal presence is impacted by our colonial past.

Curator Michael Lech discusses items from the collection. Caroline Simpson Library and Research Collection Photograph © Greg Weight  

Alignment with government priorities

Our strategies align with key government initiatives, including those to enhance education attainment, support greater employment diversity, improve customer service and create more liveable communities. We support the ambition to achieve a 15% increase in cultural participation by 2019.

Our purpose

Sydney Living Museums is a leading government agency in Australia with responsibility for conserving, managing, interpreting and activating multiple places and sites of local, national and international significance.

Established in 1980, our collection includes the UNESCO World Heritage listed Hyde Park Barracks, The Mint, Australia’s oldest surviving government building to the twentieth century Rose Seidler House, which marks the arrival of the modernist movement to Australia.

The collection is unlike other museums in that the significance of each is in the whole, and not just in the parts. The awareness of place frames each narrative. Our audiences are local, regional, national and international.

Sydney Living Museums is a State Cultural Institution, reporting to the Minister for the Arts.

Our approach 

We offer fresh, considered and diverse perspectives on the layers of our shared history and the contemporary issues that will shape our shared future, through direct experience of each place. Our commitment to our audience is to maintain the museums, landscapes and collections with integrity whilst presenting the narrative of each in contemporary, compelling and relevant ways.

Our museums are held ‘in trust’ for future generations. Each has an individual plan for its conservation and management which embraces the specific qualities, significance and histories of that place and guides the approach to activities there. Our role is to give our properties and places a future as valuable as their past.