Museums, Science and Culture

Discover ancient cultures, incredible creatures and modern heroes at Sydney’s world-class cultural institutions. The city is home to a huge collection of exhibitions and events full of pieces as rich and storied as the state itself. Ready to get your culture on? Check out this list of some of the best museums in Sydney.

Museums in The Rocks & Circular Quay

If you're looking for world-famous Sydney sites, it's hard to go past The Rocks and nearby Circular Quay. But in addition to the amazing restaurants and stunning backdrops, the area also offers some of Sydney's best museums.

Museum of Sydney

Open: Thursday to Sunday, 10am-5pm

Admission: Paid (Adults $15 / Concession $12)

Transport: Just steps from the Circular Quay train station, ferry wharf, light rail station and bus stops. Parking is limited in the area, so we suggest taking public transportation.

Displays inside the Museum of Sydney in Sydney City

One of the dozen Sydney Living Museums venues helping celebrate NSW heritage, the Museum of Sydney was built around Australia's first government house to preserve the history of one of the most pivotal locations in the country's early history. The state's founding governor, Governor Arthur Phillip, called this location home, and for decades it hosted some of the most important legal events that shaped Sydney, NSW and Australia. Visitors can view original parts of the building as well as a rotating series of exhibitions and events that dive into NSW history, including a favourite based on the First Fleet ships.

Justice and Police Museum

Open: Hours vary throughout the year, so check the website before visiting

Admission: Paid (Adults $15 / Concession $12)

Transport: As with the Museum of Sydney, the best way to get there is to take public transport to Circular Quay and make the short walk to the museum.

Justice & Police Museum in Circular Quay, Sydney City

You'll have no trouble respecting the authority of the Justice and Police Museum, which solves the mysteries of some of the state's darkest tales. One of the great Sydney history museums, it was established at the former home of the Water Police and the site of some of the biggest legal proceedings of 1800s NSW. The museum offers a peek into that past with everything from original holding cells to forensic evidence from notorious crimes. The Justice and Police Museum is also one of the best kids museums in Sydney, with plenty of activities for little ones that will scare them straight (or just put a smile on their face).

Museum of Contemporary Art

Open: Tuesday to Thursday and Saturday to Sunday, 10am-5pm; Friday 10am-9pm

Admission: General entry is free, special exhibitions have a fee

Transport: Public transport to Circular Quay is the most convenient option.

Installation view of the 19th Biennale of Sydney (2014) at the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia Courtesy the artist and Tolarno Galleries

Perhaps the most famous Sydney art museum, the Museum of Contemporary Art is a must visit in the city, and not just for modern art enthusiasts. With a picturesque setting overlooking Circular Quay and its huge collection of local and international art, it's easy to see why. It hosts blockbuster international exhibitions regularly and the rooftop cafe is one of the best places in the city for a coffee or sunset drink.

 

Museums in the City & Darling Harbour

Travel into the heart of the city to find some of Sydney's best museums, housing exciting stories from the raging sea to the country's oldest museum and its millions of pieces.

Powerhouse Museum

Open: Monday to Sunday, 10am-5pm

Admission: Free

Transport: Take the train to Central Station or light rail to Paddy’s Markets and walk down, or catch the 501 bus which stops right outside the museum. Paid parking is also available in the area.

Space exhibition at Powerhouse Museum in Ultimo, Sydney City

The Powerhouse Museum, the main branch of the Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, celebrates the state's creativity and design. Another of the great kids museums in Sydney, this is a great place for visitors young and old to view and interact with the tens of thousands of pieces in the Powerhouse Museum's massive collection highlighted by science, technology, industry and design concepts. It's also known for its eclectic array of rotating exhibitions, which has ranged from Star Wars to Abba to The Wiggles.

Australian National Maritime Museum

Open: Monday to Sunday, 10:30am-4pm

Admission: General entry is free, some exhibits are ticketed

Transport: The museum is just a 20min walk from Town Hall Station, there’s a light rail stop across the road, the 389 bus stop just outside the door or paid parking nearby.

Family exploring the HMB Endeavour, an Australian-built replica of James Cook's ship on exhibit at the Australian National Maritime Museum, Darling Harbour

Set sail for adventure at the beloved Australian National Maritime Museum. A pillar of Darling Harbour, there's always fun afloat with a range of rotating exhibitions, fun permanent fixtures and a fleet full of vessels to climb aboard and explore. An experience unlike other museum visits, this is a chance for the whole family to see what it's like to live, work, battle and explore on – and under – the high seas.

Australian Museum

Open: Monday to Sunday, 10am-5pm

Admission: General entry is free, some exhibits are ticketed

Transport: Take a train or bus to Town Hall, St James or Museum stations, all of which are a 5-10min walk away. There are also several parking garages nearby, some with discounted parking for museum visitors.

 

Westpac 200 Treasures Long Gallery, Australian Museum

As if the name didn't give it away, the Australian Museum is what many consider to be the crown jewel of the Sydney museum scene. The country's oldest museum (coincidentally located next to the country's oldest park) re-opened bigger and better than ever in late 2020 after some major refurbishments. It has more than 20 million pieces in its collection and hosts talks and workshops throughout the year. It's one of the best Aboriginal museums in the country, with a huge Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Collection displaying the incredible impact of First Peoples. 

Hyde Park Barracks Museum

Open: Thursday to Sunday, 10am-5pm

Admission: Paid (Adults $24 / Concession $20 / Children $16)

Transport: St James and Martin Place stations are a 5-10min walk away, while bus stops on nearby Elizabeth Street and Macquarie Street are also good options. There is also a paid car park at the Domain, with a flat rate of $12 a day on weekends.

Immersive displays at the Hyde Park Barracks, Sydney City

Just a short jaunt from the Australian Museum sits the Hyde Park Barracks Museum, which transports you back to the convict history upon which much of Australia was built. Set in an original building constructed to house convicts in NSW’ early colonial days, the Hyde Park Barracks Museum offers an immersive, interactive tour that takes advantage of modern-day audio and video technology for a next-level museum experience.

 

Museums around the city

Sydney Jewish Museum, Darlinghurst

Open: Monday to Thursday and Sunday, 10am-4pm

Admission: Paid (Adults $15 / Concession $9-12)

Transport: The 311 and 389 buses both stop close stops to the museum. Kings Cross Station is less than 10min walk and Museum Station a 15min walk. There's also limited metered street parking and the nearby St Vincent's Hospital car park.

Since its creation in 1992, the Sydney Jewish Museum has been teaching visitors about the Holocaust and its long-lasting impacts through more than 12,000 artefacts and 1,000 testimonials. But its lessons don't stop there, as it also hosts extensive, detailed exhibits on the history of Judaism and Jewish involvement in Australia's military.

Sydney Cricket Ground Museum, Moore Park

Open: Monday to Saturday, 10am-1130am

Admission: Paid as part of the SCG Tour (Adults $33 / Concession $25 / Children $22)

Transport: The Moore Park light rail stop is close to the gates and a number of buses also run past the SCG. Or if you want to give the legs a workout, the walk from Central Station takes around 25min (much of it uphill) from Central Station. Paid parking is also available.

Visitors in Sydney Cricket Ground Museum in Moore Park, Sydney East

It's hard to talk about Australian culture without mentioning the huge role sport plays in it. As the state's most historic sporting venue, the Sydney Cricket Ground has been the site of many of the country's greatest sporting triumphs. The SCG Museum, part of the SCG Tour, paints a picture of some of the greatest athletic moments on Australian soil, with one-of-a-kind memorabilia and first-hand accounts of the people who lived it.

Camden Museum

Open: Thursday to Sunday, 11am-4pm

Admission: Free

Transport: Located about 70km southwest of the CBD, the Camden Museum is around an hour's drive from the city.

Couple learning about the cultural and heritage background of Camden at the Camden Museum in Sydney's west

The Camden Museum is another great place to learn more about the ancient Aboriginal culture of NSW and its impact on our history. Located at the intersection of three tribal councils, the story of Camden is intricately interwoven with that of the nation as a whole. Learn more about it here through hundreds of documents and artefacts donated to the museum through the years.

Discover These Museums in Sydney

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Sydney Museum FAQs

What museums are open in Sydney?

Most Sydney museums are open during regular business hours. 

However, some are only open on the weekends, and many are closed for various public and religious holidays. It's a good idea to check the museum's website or call to make sure it will be open when you're planning your visit.