Powerhouse Museum announces 2021 exhibition program

Bayram Ali, Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Scheme, Powerhouse CollectionThe Powerhouse Museum has announced its 2021 exhibition program to be presented at Ultimo under the direction of Chief Executive Lisa Havilah.

The program includes 12 new exhibitions celebrating the Museum’s world-class collection of more than 500,000 objects, as well as international collaborations, Australian exclusives, new commissions and never before seen objects .

“The Powerhouse is home to more than half a million objects. Over the past three decades visitors have only ever seen around 10% of these in the Museum,” said Chief Executive Lisa Havilah. “Our 2021 program and vision for the Powerhouse is to tell the untold stories within our collection and engage our communities with contemporary ideas and issues. This is the first step for a reimagined Powerhouse program.”

Launching today (Tuesday 9 February 2021), a photographic exhibition titled Bayram Ali, documents Australia’s Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Scheme through imagery captured by Turkish Cypriot migrant and amateur photographer Bayram Ali during his time working on the project (1920-1995). Featuring photographs taken from the mid 1950’s through to 1970, the exhibition documents the work and leisure activities on the Scheme.

Iranzamin, the first exhibition exploring the arts and crafts of Persia from the Powerhouse Collection, opens on 19 March 2021, coinciding with the Persian New Year, Nowrouz. Presenting more than 100 rarely seen objects collected between the 1880s to 2020, this major exhibition explores the diverse social and cultural history of Persian arts with a focus on the Qajar era (1789-1925).

More than 300 objects from the Powerhouse’s significant Australian ceramics collection will be presented alongside 20 new Australian commissions in Clay Dynasty opening on 28 May 2021. Celebrating 50 years of Australian studio ceramics, from studio pottery of the 1970s to contemporary works, this survey exhibition charts the astonishing diversity of ceramic practice in Australia, highlighting the creative potential of clay and the artists who have shaped the field.

Launching on 11 June 2021, the Powerhouse presents the most ambitious climate change project exhibition and talks program to be presented in Australia. 100 Conversations will present live in-depth discussions with leading Australian innovators acting on climate change. This ever-evolving exhibition will document a series of public conversations, over the course of two years, to examine the issues our planet faces today and addresses what needs to happen to prevent catastrophic climate change.

Microcars will present the rise of the tiny automobiles through over 17 cars from across Europe, Japan, the UK and Australia. Opening on 11 June 2021, the retrospective explores the current resurgence of electric and hybrid microcars following the damaging impact internal combustion engine vehicles are having on our world.

Eucalyptusdom will delve into the untold stories of Australia’s native gum tree, the relationship between Eucalyptus and Indigenous Australians and the pursuit of economic botany in the late 19th and early 20th centuries as well as the Federation arts and crafts movement.

Opening on 25 June 2021, this major exhibition will combine material from the Powerhouse collection with new commissions from artists including Dean Cross, Luna Mrozik Gawler, Julie Gough, Vera Hong, Anna May Kirk, Nicholas Mangan, Yasmin Smith, Sera Waters and Damien Wright with Bonhula Yunupingu .

The work of one of Australia’s foremost portrait and social pages photographers is surveyed in Robert Rosen: Glitterati: 20 years of Social Photography. Opening on 6 August 2021, the exhibition explores two decades of Rosen’s work, documenting the famous and infamous from Sydney’s spectacular Rat Parties in the 1980s to the exclusive Cointreau Ball and the Bicentennial Mercedes Australian Fashion Week VIP events.

Graphic Identities will present work by celebrated 20th century designers including Douglas Annand, Frances Burke and Arthur Leydin, alongside new commissions from contemporary design studios. Opening on 14 September 2021, the exhibition is part of Sydney Design Week 2021.

Presented in collaboration with the Chuncheon National Museum and National Museum of Korea, the museum’s major summer exhibition is the Australian premiere of Five Hundred Arhats of Changnyeongsa Temple site: Reflections of our Hearts, opening on 3 December 2021.

The Five Hundred Arhats were discovered in 2001 among the ruins of Changnyeongsa Temple in Yeongwol, Gangwon-do Province in Korea, and are believed to be 500 years old. The human shaped stone forms, conveying a variety of emotions, will be integrated into an immersive installation by contemporary artist Seungyoung Kim.

Alongside the main premiere exhibitions, Electric Keys will survey the journey of electric keyboards and the influence the instruments had on soul jazz, blues, rock, progressive rock and pop (2 July 2021); whilst The Invisible Revealed will explore the results of using nuclear-beam technologies to scan Powerhouse Collection objects, revealing stories that are not visible on the surface (12 November 2021).

Celebrating designers of the future, Future Fashion will feature outstanding work by top graduates from four Sydney-based fashion design schools (30 April 2021). In 2021 the Powerhouse will be presenting Sydney Science Festival from 14 – 22 August. Creative Director, Stephen Todd will curate a week-long program for Sydney Design Week from 14 – 21 September this year.

“The Powerhouse collection is a treasure trove brimming with fascinating objects, each with their own story to tell,” said Minister for the Arts, Don Harwin. “This extensive exhibition program marks the beginning of a new stage for the Powerhouse that will allow more of the collection to be seen than ever before.”

For more information about the Powerhouse Museum’s 2021 exhibition program, visit: www.maas.museum for details.

Image: Bayram Ali, Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Scheme, Powerhouse Collection