The Big 4 Museums in Sydney (+ 17 Niche Museums & Heritage Sites)

If you’re in Sydney here are the 4 museums that should be on your must-do list, plus, 17 more fascinating museums and heritage sites to explore. The big four museums are highly regarded for their presentation and for being highly engaging with stunning exhibits and interactive displays while smaller museums offer insight into Australian history and heritage in their own niches. Many are also free.

Please check the museum websites for detailed info on opening times and special exhibitions.

The Big 4 Museums in Sydney

Image: Wikipedia

Powerhouse Museum

Website | Location: CBD, Ultimo – Google Maps

The Powerhouse Museum is the largest museum in NSW and dates back to 1879. It is home to over 300,000 items across science, design, technology, history, the arts, and engineering also featuring state-of-the-art exhibitions. You can easily spend several hours here. A new precinct of the Powerhouse will open in Paramatta in 2023

Image: designcase

Chau Chak Wing Museum

Website | Location: Camperdown – Google Maps

Recently redeveloped, the new museum features never before presented items from ancient Rome, Greece, Egypt, Australia, and the works of leading contemporary artists. Also featuring the Macleay Collections, Nicholson Collection, and the University Art Collection.

Image: AM NSW

Australian Museum

Website | Location: CBD, Darlinghurst – Google Maps

The nation’s first museum, founded in 1827, the heritage-listed Australian Museum features over 20 million items. It features a focus on the world’s incredible biodiversity with more than 400 animals on display plus dinosaur exhibits, cultural exhibits, and more.

Image: Wikipedia

Australian National Maritime Museum

Website | Location: CBD, Darling Harbour – Google Maps

Featuring a collection of items dating back to 1606, including warships, submarines, tall ships, and more all open to be explored. It also features exhibits of indigenous maritime culture and Australia’s monument to migration. People usually spend three hours of more here.

Specialised Museums & Heritage Sites

Image: Wikipedia

Museum of Sydney

Website | Location: CBD – Google Maps

A modern museum that preserves the archaeological remains of Australia’s first Government House built in 1788 telling the stories of the people and events that have shaped the city throughout history.

Image: Wikipedia

Hyde Park Barracks Museum

Website | Location: CBD – Google Maps

A UNESCO World Heritage-listed site that once housed some 50,000 convicts between 1819 and 1848. The site features displays and exhibits and a database of stories revealing the convict’s life.

Image: Wikipedia

Justice and Police Museum

Website | Location: CBD – Google Maps

Dating to 1856, it was originally the Water Police station featuring courtrooms and holding cells. A vast archive of forensic photography from police files is presented along with artifacts.

Image: Unesco

Sydney Observatory

Website | Location: CBD, Millers Point – Google Maps

The state-listed heritage site houses two heritage timekeeping devices, the flagstaff and time ball which were essential to shipping and navigation in times long before GPS. The site also features an observatory used by government astrologers during the 19th and 20th centuries. The site also features a 3D Space Theatre and the Sydney Planetarium.

Image: Wikipedia

The Mint

Website | Location: CBD – Google Maps

One of Sydney’s oldest buildings, dating to 1816, Stepping inside Sydney’s oldest public building, originally served as a hospital and then the Royal Mint, and also as courts and offices.

Image: Wikipedia

The Anzac Memorial

Website | Location: CBD – Google Maps

The Anzac Memorial is not only a sacred destination of remembrance but also one of the finest examples of art deco style in Australia. Moreover, it houses a large historical collection of objects preserving the personal stories of those who served and their families.

Image: Wikipedia

Sydney Jewish Museum

Website | Location: CBD, Darlinghurst – Google Maps

Opened in 1992, the museum and gallery preserves the memories of the Jewish community and the community of Holocaust survivors in Sydney.

Image: Reserve Bank of Australia

Reserve Bank of Australia Museum

Website | Location: CBD – Google Maps

The Museum features informative displays and exhibits about Australia’s banknotes and the role of the Reserve Bank over time. It tells a story of Australia’s social and economic development over time.

Image: Sydney Bus Museum

Sydney Bus Museum

Website | Location: Leichhardt – Google Maps

The Sydney Bus Museum was established in 1986 and preserves a rare collection of historic buses dating from the 1920s to 2000 along with ancillary vehicles and other transport-related memorabilia.

Image: Wikipedia

Royal Australian Navy Heritage Centre

Website | Location: Garden Island – Google Maps

Opened in 2005, the Naval Heritage Centre features indoor and outdoor displays as well as a cafe, Sydney Harbour views, and gardens

Image: Wikipedia

Elizabeth Bay House

Website | Location: Elizabeth Bay – Google Maps

Dating to the mid-1800s, and once the home to Sydney’s governor, Alexander Macleay, it is one of Australia’s most elaborate colonial-era homes featuring stunning views over Sydney Harbour.

Image: M&G NSW

Museum of Freemasonry

Website | Location: CBD – Google Maps

Discover the hidden mysteries and secrets of Ancient Freemasonry with this collection spanning over 200 years and including the Archives, Museum, Gallery, and Library of the Freemasons of Australia.

Image: RPA Museum

RPA Museum

Website | Location: Camperdown – Google Maps

The RPA Museum preserves the cultural heritage of the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, showcasing themes related to nursing, medicine, and social history. Two display rooms are situated in the original 1941 heritage-listed operating theatres.

Image: Wikipedia

Elizabeth Farm

Website | Location: Rosehill – Google Maps

Australia’s oldest homestead and now an immersive museum with colonial bungalow and 1830s garden.

Image: Wikipedia

Old Government House

Website | Location: Rosehill – Google Maps

The World Heritage listed site is the oldest surviving public building in Australia. Located on 200 acres of parkland overlooking the Parramatta River, it also houses a colonial furniture collection, early textiles, and significant homewares from the time of the Governors.

Image: Wikipedia

Susannah Place Museum

Website | Location: CBD, The Rocks – Google Maps

Susannah Place is a terrace of four houses built by Irish immigrants in 1844 featuring tiny backyards, basement kitchens, and outside washhouses that have amazingly survived unchanged while Sydney has grown around it.

Image: SCG Museum

Sydney Cricket Ground Museum

Website | Location: Moore Park – Google Maps

The Sydney Cricket Ground Museum features exhibits of some of Australia’s most famous sporting conquests and incredible moments.