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Hidden treasures on show in Sydney

AAP logoAAP 14/09/2016 Sophie Tarr

Sydneysiders will be offered a peek inside the back-rooms and basements of some of Australia's leading museums, with a collection of never-before-seen treasures now on display in the city's northwest.

The Museum Discovery Centre in Castle Hill reopened on Wednesday following a $34 million refurbishment to allow it to better store and showcase artefacts from The Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences, the Australian Museum and Sydney Living Museums.

The Centre's collection includes a 20,000 year old paleolithic artefact from South Africa, furnishings from historic NSW homes and a century-old electric car.

Curator Margaret Simpson said the overhaul was two years in the making and involved brushing the cobwebs off some 5000 objects.

"Many of them have never been on display before," she told AAP.

Nestled among the rare butterflies and ice chests is one of Ms Simpson's favourite pieces - the vessel used by the late adventurer David Lewis to sail singlehandedly to Antarctica in 1972.

The Ice Bird's mast broke after its first capsize, forcing Dr Lewis to sail the remaining 4000 kilometres to Palmer Antarctic Station using a jury rigged, or makeshift mast.

Ms Simpson said the sailboat's most recent voyage onto the exhibition floor at Castle Hill presented its own logistical challenges: it arrived at the centre in a sling suspended from two cranes.

"It was fairly hair-raising," Ms Simpson said.

The centre will open its doors to the public this weekend.

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