The Collaborative Museum: Embedding Cultural Infrastructure in the City



Flagship cultural institutions such as museums have long been significant sites of cultural exchange and the urban experience. In the 21st century, museums are increasingly expected to contribute to local place-making and community cultural development.  To be successful, new museums must be embedded in their physical and social environments from the outset.

In partnership with the Museum of Arts and Applied Sciences (MAAS), this project examines the complex processes of collaboration and community engagement needed to embed the new Powerhouse museum in the key Western Sydney city of Parramatta. Anticipated to open in 2025, the establishment of the Powerhouse Parramatta provides a unique opportunity to analyse, and contribute to, the process of embedding the new museum into the physical and community space of Western Sydney in real time.

The project has four strands: contributing to the Australian Culinary Archive in binding culture and community through food in Parramatta; documenting community uses of the Parramatta River; exploring the possibilities of engagement with local creative industries and cultural infrastructures; and the development of working principles for the research community associated with the Parramatta Powerhouse’s ‘Powerlab’, the planned collaboration space within the new museum.


Chief Investigators

Research Fellow

Partner Investigators: Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences - Dr Deborah Lawler-Dormer; Ms Emily McDaniel, Ms Lisa Ffrench, Anni Turnbull; Nina Earl.

Funding: ARC Linkage Grant

Period: 2021 – 2025

Contact: Dr Cecelia Cmielewski at