past Exhibition

Boulton and Watt Steam Engine

Location marker iconTechnological MuseumTime icon1930

The Boulton and Watt steam engine played a key role in the development of the modern world and may be the most significant technological artefact ever to reach Australia.

It was built in England in the early stages of the Industrial Revolution (1780s) and was one of the first rotative (wheel-turning) steam engines.

As Boulton and Watt engines were prime movers in the Industrial Revolution, this very significant engine represents not just invention and entrepreneurship, but also wealth creation, mass consumerism, great changes in working life, a massive shift in the use of resources, and consequent damage to the natural environment.

The engine in our collection is the oldest Boulton and Watt steam engine in existence and one of the oldest in the world to still work regularly under steam.

Please note the Boulton and Watt steam engine does not operate on Tuesdays when it receives regular maintenance.

A museum is more than the physical container that holds it. It is everything that gets us to this moment. Powerhouse Museum maintains a public archive of Past Programs dating back to its beginnings in the 1880s, which we are gradually digitising.