The Wolanski Foundation Project


Sydney Opera House 5





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Performing arts & theatre
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Sydney Opera House











Sydney Opera House: an annotated list of sources & services



At the Sydney Opera House

Sydney Opera House Trust. Active official records. Including business records, programs, photographs, press clippings, art works, posters, photographs, architectural plans and models.  


Dennis Wolanski Archives of the Sydney Opera Houses. Collection of manuscripts, photographs and other memorabilia donated to the Dennis Wolanski Library of the Performing Arts, 1973-1997. Includes material re Sir Eugene Goossens, Sir Charles Moses, Jorn Utzon and other notable figures in the Opera House history. Specific examples include

Indyk, Shelley and Rice, Susan. The Sydney Opera House as envisaged by Joern Utzon, Nov 1961.University of Sydney thesis, 1981.

At State Records New South Wales


NSW Public Works and Services 

Sydney Opera House files c1962-1975 and architectural plans. Includes original competition drawings submitted by Jørn Utzon. 


Sydney Opera House Executive Committee 

Records re, inter alia, selection of site, final draft of SOH competition brochure, competition answers to questions; memorandum to competitors; assessors reports, identification of designs; and professional fees.


Sydney Opera House Official Opening Committee

Correspondence files 1972-1973 


Sydney Opera House Trust

Archived files, including business records, programs and photographs. 


Other records

Information about the Sydney Opera House can also be found in records of the NSW Education Department, Premier's Office, State Lotteries of NSW, Ministry for the Arts and Edward Herbert Farmer, among others.  

At the State Library of NSW

Jorn Utzon records 1956-1967. Files from Utzon's Sydney office, including manuscripts, pictures, architectural drawings and models. Guide to the collection at ML MSS 2362/1. 

Ralph Symonds collection. Includes photographs of SOH models, glass walls, cladding and panelling.

Ronald A Gilling. Utzon, the Institute and the Sydney Opera House: a narrative of how the resignation affected the profession and the part played by the Royal Australian Institute of Architects, 2002. [ML MSS 7405].

At National Library of Australia

H. Ingham Ashworth. Papers 1954-1966. Relate entirely to the Sydney Opera House. Includes copies of minutes of Executive Committee, Technical Advisory Panel, Traffic Sub-committee and site conferences. Also includes letters from Jørn Utzon, Sir Davis Hughes and others, reports, articles, photographs, an architectural model, drawing and plans. 




Nearly 50 interviews were recorded by the Dennis Wolanski Library and Archives of the Performing arts 1988-1995 with architects, engineers, administrators, politicians, commentators and tradesman. Tapes and transcripts are located at the Sydney Opera House Trust Corporate Affairs Department.  





A collection of 1017 contact sheets from the collection of Don McMurdo (1930-2001) is held by the National Library of Australia. Don McMurdo was employed by the Sydney Opera House Trust as official photographer during the 1970s and 1980s. The National Library collection documents over 200 opera, theatre and ballet performances between 1976 and 1998, as well as some photographs relating to concert performances. An extensive collection of official photographs by Don McMurdo and others is located at the Sydney Opera House and State Records NSW. See also other photographs located in the State Library of NSW and other repositories as described in the Archives and Manuscripts section above.


The Powerhouse Museum has a collection of photographs from the estate of Sydney Opera House architect Peter Hall. Includes 178 black and white images by Max Dupain, taken during the construction 1959-1973m and selected by Hall from Dupain's collection of 1500 negatives. The photographs were purchased by the medical technology company ResMed Ltd at an auction in London in May 2004, before being donated to the Powerhouse Museum. [SMH 12 July 2005].    




At the Sydney Opera House Trust

Has a collection in chronological sequence from 1972. To facilitate public access a full chronological set has been transferred to State Records NSW along with a comprehensive card index of performances 1973-1978, An extensive collection in alphabetical collection of House programs were also transferred to the University of New South Wales Library [see below].  


At State Records New South Wales

Sydney Opera House Trust program collection 1972-. The Sydney Opera House retains programs for all events presented at the House. Between 1973 and 1997,  they were selectively indexed in manual and electronic systems, which are available at the Sydney Opera House, State Archives and/or University of New South Wales.

At the State Library of New South Wales

Collects programs under legal deposit obligations, including performances at the Sydney Opera House.

At Seaborn Broughton & Walford Foundation 

Dennis Wolanski Library of the Performing Arts program collection. About 80,000 items including files of presentations at the Sydney Opera House and associated card index. The SBW Foundation also acquired Sydney Opera House General Manager, Lloyd Martin's collection. Some programs are indexed in the AusStage National Performing Arts Database



At Sydney Opera House

A small collection of clipping files on the construction and administrative history of the Sydney Opera House 1937-2000, beginning with the Musical Association of New South Wales’ advocacy for a national house for opera. Daily Telegraph 12 July 1937 are located in the Sydney Opera House archives.

At the Seaborn Broughton Walford Foundation

Extensive files of clippings on the performance history of the Opera House 1961-1995 were transferred to the University of New South Wales Library in 1997, then transferred to the Seaborn Broughton and Walford Foundation in 2005.These are accompanied by a card index to the collection, including all stage works (theatre, dance and opera) performed at the Sydney Opera House 1972-1996. 



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