A Future for the Past: a Symposium to Mark the Bicentenary of the Rum Hospital

The Rum Hospital is often referred to as Sydney’s first public–private partnership, and its history reveals much about Australia’s first city.

Completed in 1816, the Rum Hospital was built to manage the health of the convict workforce, and it remains an important hallmark of Sydney’s character, architecture and government. The project was part of Governor Lachlan Macquarie’s vision for an exemplary imperial administration.

On the 200th anniversary of the hospital, Sydney Living Museums invites you to join us at The Mint at 10 Macquarie Street for a symposium that explores the building’s history, heritage, architecture and politics. The daylong event at what was once the south wing of the hospital will explore three key phases of this significant site: 1816 and the health and architecture of the early colony; 1855 and the creation of the Sydney Mint, Sydney Hospital and NSW Parliament; 1976 and the rejuvenation of the south wing, the changing face of heritage activism and adaptive reuse.

Speakers include Director of Heritage and Collections at SLM, Ian Innes, medical historian Dr Peter Hobbins, award-winning architect Richard Francis-Jones, SLM Curator Dr Fiona Starr and NSW Government Architect Peter Poulet.

A copy of The Mint Project (RRP $65) is included in the ticket price and will be provided to attendees on the day of the symposium. 


Symposium schedule


Registration, Tea and Coffee


Acknowledgment of Country, Introduction


Session 1: Macquarie’s Rum Hospital


Peter Poulet NSW Government Architect, Government Architects Office

  • ‘Macquarie and Greenway, Architecture and Civic Improvement’: Ian Innes Director, Heritage and Collections, Sydney Living Museums 

  • ‘A General “Rum” Hospital for Convicts’: Dr Fiona Starr Curator, Macquarie St Portfolio, Sydney Living Museums 

  • ‘Sydney Infirmary and Dispensary for the free’: Dr Peter Hobbins Research Associate, History Department, Sydney University


Lunch Break


Session 2: The Sydney Mint, the Sydney Hospital and Parliament


Dr Caroline Butler-Bowdon Director, Curatorial and Public Engagement, Sydney Living Museums

  • ‘The Royal Mint, Sydney Branch’: Megan Martin Head of Collections and Access, Sydney Living Museums

  • ‘The History of Macquarie Street’: Dr Lisa Murray City Historian, City of Sydney Council


Afternoon Break


Session 3: A Heritage worth saving


Tim Horton Registrar of the NSW Architects Registration Board

  • ‘Adaptive Reuse Revisited, reflections on The Mint Project’ Richard Francis-Jones FJMT Studio

  • A future for the past panel discussion
    Mark Goggin, Executive Director, Sydney Living Museums
    Ian Innes, Director, Heritage and Collections, Sydney Living Museums
    Sharon Veale, CEO GLM Heritage and Trustee, Historic Houses Trust of NSW
    Richard Francis-Jones, FJMT Studio


Vote of Thanks and Close



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When & Where

Saturday 30 July 2016 9.30AM–5PM

The Mint

10 Macquarie Street, Sydney, NSW, 2000
+612 8239 2288

Bookings essential

General $125
Concession $115
Members $100 
Student $75
Association members (applicable Associations only*) $100

Lunch, refreshments and a copy of The Mint Project (RRP $65) are included.


Presented as part of GA200+


Applicable Associations*
Australia and New Zealand Society for the History of Medicine
Australian Historical Association
Australian Architects Association
Australian Institute of Architects
City of Sydney Historical Association
Government Architects Office
The Fellowship of First Fleeters
Friends of First Government House
History Council of NSW
Lucy Osbourne-Nightingale Foundation Museum
Medical Journal of Australia
Menzies Centre for Health Policy, Syd Uni
Museum of Human Disease, UNSW
National Trust Australia
Parliament House
Professional Historians Association NSW & ACT
RACP History of Medicine Library
Royal Australian College of Physicians, History of Medicine Library
Royal Australian Historical Society
Society of the Preservation of the Artefacts of Surgery
State Library of NSW
Museums and Galleries NSW
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