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.  


Our purpose is to revitalise people’s lives with the living history of our city and beyond, allowing people to experience the past as if they had lived it themselves.


Involvement of a wider range of people in understanding, interpreting and caring for the past. This includes:

  • managing partnerships with communities and other organisations and cultural institutions
  • embracing life-long learning
  • strengthening our community involvement at our properties
  • working closely with our members
  • encouraging and supporting volunteers
  • finding more opportunities for people to contribute actively to what we do.

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

Access and enjoyment

Access and enjoyment for more people and a wider range of people to our properties, collections, programs and knowledge. This includes:

  • finding more and different ways for people to enjoy our properties, collections programs and knowledge
  • improving access to information about our properties, collections, programs and knowledge
  • ensuring that all visitors feel welcome and experience something special each time they visit us
  • using digital and other media to engage people with our properties, collections, programs and knowledge
  • improving access to our properties, collections, programs and knowledge for people with disabilities
  • learning more about our audiences.

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

Conservation and curatorship

Ensuring our properties and collections are handed on to future generations in good heart. This includes:

  • putting good research at the heart of all our work
  • making better use of our curatorial expertise
  • making decisions that are transparent and for which we are accountable
  • meeting state and other heritage requirements
  • maintaining our properties and collections well
  • increasing the visibility of the conservation process.

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


To ensure we are a resilient organisation with a secure future. This includes:

  • improving awareness of our properties and our organisation as a whole
  • understanding the economic, social and environmental impacts of what we do
  • investing in and developing our properties
  • increasing our earned revenue
  • controlling costs and improve financial management
  • reducing our carbon footprint
  • fostering relationships with government
  • evaluating our effectiveness.

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


The wellbeing of our staff. This includes:

  • developing our sense of shared mission across the organisation
  • developing the skills of our staff
  • improving the management and implementation of occupational health and safety
  • improving management structures
  • developing a team-based work culture
  • strengthening management services
  • managing risk
  • improving communication
  • keeping better records.

Reception area, Elizabeth Bay House. Photo © Haley Richardson and Stuart Miller for Sydney Living Museums


Using our knowledge and expertise to protect our past and to enrich and inspire current and future generations. This includes:

  • promoting the value of good conservation
  • challenging assumptions about the past
  • keeping our creative edge
  • encouraging more people to discover their own past.

Picture hook sampler in display titled 'Hanging pictures in the home 100 years ago' in Scholars' Gallery, Caroline Simpson Library. Photo © Penny Clay for Sydney Living Museums