Sydney Living Museums is hosting a symposium to mark the 200th anniversary of the opening of Governor Macquarie’s General ‘Rum’ Hospital for convicts.

A Future for the Past will explore the fascinating history, heritage, architecture and politics of the oldest surviving public buildings in central Sydney. Completed in 1816 and comprising of three buildings, the Rum Hospital was built to manage the health of the convict workforce of the time.

However, the Rum Hospital has evolved in purpose from serving convict patients 200 years ago to being progressively adapted as the Sydney Dispensary and Infirmary, Sydney Hospital, the Sydney branch of the Royal Mint and NSW Parliament House, with the site of the hospital interwoven with some of the most important events in New South Wales history.

The Hospital’s north wing survives today in a much altered form as the NSW Parliament, while the south wing has remained largely intact and is now part of The Mint.

A Future for the Past will explore this compelling two-century story with symposium participants, going from the management of health in the early colony to the subsequent adaptations including the award-winning rejuvenation of The Mint and the future potential 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 to the adaptive reuse of its buildings and the changing face of heritage activism.

A major highlight of the full-day symposium is the compelling line-up of speakers including medical historian Dr Peter Hobbins, City Historian Dr Lisa Murray, NSW Government Architect Peter Poulet, Director of Heritage and Collections at Sydney Living Museums Ian Innes, and award-winning architect Richard Francis-Jones.

A Future for the Past symposium will be held on Saturday 30 July, 9.30am - 5.00pm at The Gold Melting Room, The Mint, 10 Macquarie St, Sydney.

Image: The Rum Hospital