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The realisation of the Sydney Technical College and Technological Museum, 1878-92: aspects of their cultural significance


Orr, K, The realisation of the Sydney Technical College and Technological Museum, 1878-92: aspects of their cultural significance, Fabrications, 17, (1) pp. 46-67. ISSN 1033-1867 (2007) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2007 Fabrications

DOI: doi:10.1080/10331867.2007.10539599


The surviving nineteenth-century buildings in Sydney’s central business district are important tangible expressions of local identity and experience; culturally significant because they embody the aesthetic, scientific and social values of a particular period in Australian history. Despite this, the heritage value of the Sydney Technical College (1891) and Technological Museum (1892) has been narrowly defined in terms of the architectural style of their polychrome brick facades: the pair is notable for representing one of the most significant breaks with the classical sandstone traditions that then existed for public buildings. The cultural significance that derives from the social, political and economic circumstances of their conception and realisation has not been fully explored, particularly aspects relating to their siting and exterior architecture. This paper investigates the fourteen-year period from 1878, when the New South Wales Government voted £2,000 to establish a Technical or Workingman’s College, to 1892, when the Sydney Technical College and Technological Museum were completed. In this reading of the social history of their creation, particular references are made to the role of the 1879 Sydney International Exhibition and the changing ethos to which it contributed. It was a time when the urban bourgeoisie were moving from a value system based upon British tradition and classicism in education and architecture, to a more utilitarian, technological and democratic outlook inspired by a belief in progress. The exhibition had stimulated debate on the subject of technical education, exposed the people of Sydney to some of the best artistic and technologically advanced products of their age and transmitted aesthetic ideas that encouraged more confident architectural and artistic practice.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:Sydney Technical College and Technological Museum, 19th century buildings
Research Division:Built Environment and Design
Research Group:Architecture
Research Field:Architectural history, theory and criticism
Objective Division:Culture and Society
Objective Group:Understanding past societies
Objective Field:Understanding Australia's past
UTAS Author:Orr, K (Professor Kirsten Orr)
ID Code:107515
Year Published:2007
Deposited By:Architecture
Deposited On:2016-03-17
Last Modified:2016-09-20

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