Sydney / Symposium for 200th anniversary of the Rum Hospital


A Future for the Past

A Symposium to mark the 200th anniversary of the Rum Hospital

On the 200th anniversary of the opening of Governor Macquarie’s General ‘Rum’ Hospital for convicts, we invite you to discover the compelling history of the oldest surviving public buildings in central Sydney.

From its origins serving convict patients to its many adaptations as the Sydney Dispensary and Infirmary, Sydney Hospital, the Sydney branch of the Royal Mint and NSW Parliament House, the site of the Rum Hospital, its new building and those that remain, are interwoven with some of the most important events in New South Wales history.

A Future for the Past, to be held in what was originally the south wing of the hospital,explores this compelling two century story – from the management of health in the early colony, the later functions of its original buildings and the wider history of Macquarie Street; through to the award-winning rejuvenation of The Mint and the future promise of this significant site.

Hosted in partnership with the Government Architect’s GA200+ event series, the symposium will also reveal a long, never uncontroversial history of public architecture and heritage in NSW – from the Hospital’s original design and construction, the adaptive reuse of its buildings and the changing face of heritage activism.

This full day symposium is brought to life by a compelling line-up of speakers including medical historian Dr Peter Hobbins, City Historian Dr Lisa Murray, Director of Heritage and Collections at Sydney Living Museums, Ian Innes, and award-winning architect Richard Francis-Jones.

To find out more about this event, including the full line-up of speakers please visit our website.

When: Saturday 30th July, 9:30am–5.00pm
Where: The Gold Melting Room, The Mint, 10 Macquarie St, Sydney
Price: $125 General | $100 Concession/Member | $100 Select Associations | $100 Registered Architects | $75 full-time Student

Admission price includes: lunch, refreshments and a complimentary copy of the book The Mint Project (RRP $65)


The Rum Hospital is often referred to as Sydney’s first public–private partnership, and its history reveals much about Australia’s first city.

Completed in 1816, the Rum Hospital was built to manage the health of the convict workforce, and it remains an important hallmark of Sydney’s character, architecture and government. The project was part of Governor Lachlan Macquarie’s vision for an exemplary imperial administration.

On the 200th anniversary of the hospital, Sydney Living Museums invites you to join us at The Mint at 10 Macquarie Street for a symposium that explores the building’s history, heritage, architecture and politics. The daylong event at what was once the south wing of the hospital will explore three key phases of this significant site: 1816 and the health and architecture of the early colony; 1855 and the creation of the Sydney Mint, Sydney Hospital and NSW Parliament; 1976 and the rejuvenation of the south wing, the changing face of heritage activism and adaptive reuse.

Speakers include Director of Heritage and Collections at SLM, Ian Innes, medical historian Dr Peter Hobbins, award-winning architect Richard Francis-Jones, SLM Curator Dr Fiona Starr and NSW Government Architect Peter Poulet.

A copy of The Mint Project (RRP $65) is included in the ticket price and will be provided to attendees on the day of the symposium.



9.30am–10am Registration, Tea and Coffee
10am–10.15am Acknowledgment of Country, Introduction
10.15am–12.05pm Session 1: Macquarie’s Rum Hospital
Peter Poulet NSW Government Architect, Government Architects Office

  • ‘Macquarie and Greenway, Architecture and Civic Improvement’: Ian Innes Director, Heritage and Collections, Sydney Living Museums
  • ‘A General “Rum” Hospital for Convicts’: Dr Fiona StarrCurator, Macquarie St Portfolio, Sydney Living Museums
  • ‘Sydney Infirmary and Dispensary for the free’: Dr Peter Hobbins Research Associate, History Department, Sydney University
12.05pm–1:30pm Lunch Break
1:30pm–3pm Session 2: The Sydney Mint, the Sydney Hospital and Parliament
Dr Caroline Butler-Bowdon Director, Curatorial and Public Engagement, Sydney Living Museums

  • ‘The Royal Mint, Sydney Branch’: Megan Martin Head of Collections and Access, Sydney Living Museums
  • ‘The History of Macquarie Street’: Dr Lisa Murray City Historian, City of Sydney Council
3pm–3:20pm Afternoon Break
3.20pm–4.50pm Session 3: A Heritage worth saving
Tim Horton Registrar of the NSW Architects Registration Board

  • ‘Adaptive Reuse Revisited, reflections on The Mint Project’Richard Francis-Jones FJMT Studio
  • ‘Sydney Living Museums, Building a Future’ Mark GogginExecutive Director, Sydney Living Museums
4.50pm–5pm Vote of Thanks and Close
error: Content is Protected