Take History Home The doughnuts from the Concert Hall are up for auction
3 – 21 November 2023
The Concert Hall’s decommissioned acoustic reflectors, affectionately known as the ‘doughnuts’ were loved by performers, audiences and staff since the Opera House opened in 1973.
Now, nine originating from the mid-1990s – 2009 are available to buy via an online auction running until Tuesday 21 November 2023.
From Friday 3 November – Tuesday 21 November. Bids close at 2pm on Tuesday 21 November. This auction is online and hosted by Leonard Joel.
Lots 5 - 14
Sunday 19 November 10am - 1pm
Concert Hall Northern Foyer, Sydney Opera House, Bennelong Point, Sydney NSW. Light refreshments will be provided.
There will also be a viewing of Lots 1 -4 between Monday 13 - Friday 17 November at Leonard Joel’s office based at 36-40 Queen Street, Woollahra NSW. Their office opening hours are 10am - 4pm.
The viewing event of the Concert Hall Doughnuts at Sydney Opera House will run between 10am - 1pm on 19 November. Heritage talks will be at 10.30 and 12pm but you are welcome to pop in at any time between 10am and 1pm. Light refreshments will be provided.
There will also be a viewing between Monday 13 November - Friday 17 November at Leonard Joel's office based at 36-40 Queen Street, Woollahra NSW. The viewing will be open between 10am - 4pm.
Suitable for all ages.
Children aged 15 years and under must be accompanied at all times.
The Opera House is committed to the safety and wellbeing of children that visit or engage with us. Read our Child Safety Policy
Willy Hall, son of Opera House architect Peter Hall
I love them because they remind me of the whole drama of the place and are symbolic of that time and era of Sydney
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About the doughnuts
The acoustic reflectors or ‘doughnuts’ as they’re commonly referred to, were hung in the Opera House’s Concert Hall since its opening in 1973. From Arnold Schwarzenegger to the London Symphony Orchestra to Nick Cave, they have reflected the sounds of hundreds of famous artists and public figures. Replaced a few times between their original manufacture and 2009, they were then decommissioned in 2020 to make way for new acoustic technology as part of the Opera House’s Decade of Renewal.
Now, nine of the ‘doughnuts’ originating from the 1990s – 2009 are available to buy via an online auction hosted by Leonard Joel. This provides the unique opportunity to take home a significant item in the Opera House’s history.
For questions about the auction, please contact Leonard Joel's Sydney office at email@example.com and for questions about the viewing or Concert Hall Doughnuts please contact the Philanthropy Team at firstname.lastname@example.org
Frequently asked questions
The ‘doughnuts’ which they’re often referred as, were the acoustic reflectors in the Concert Hall. The Perspex rings were first installed in 1972 in the Concert Hall to improve its acoustics. What is now the Concert Hall was originally going to be the opera theatre. After Danish architect Jørn Utzon’s departure in 1966, there was a change in brief by the government and the venue became a Concert Hall. However, the height of the ceiling was too high for orchestral music, so the design solution was to install acoustic reflectors over the stage. This solution was the brainchild of Peter Hall, the Australian architect who completed the building after the departure of Utzon, and Danish acoustician Dr Vilhelm Jordan.
The acoustic reflectors were brought down in 2020 to make way for the renewal of the Concert Hall. The upgrades were completed over a two-year period, with acoustic improvements being a key goal. To achieve this, we replaced the doughnuts with state-of the-art acoustic reflectors, resembling petals which have significantly improved the sound quality of the venue.
The acoustic reflectors have been stored in custom-made crates in a secure, climate-controlled art storage facility.
1.90m outside diameter 1.00m inner diameter 0.20m height. These objects are heavy at around 40kg each.
All measurements are approximate.
Over the years, they have had various nicknames including giant ‘lifesavers’, and ‘calamari rings’. But ‘doughnuts’ has been the term of endearment that has stuck.
All funds raised from the auction will support the celebration and conservation of the Opera House's heritage significance - now and in the future, as well as expand its most socially impactful programs on site and online, community-led performances, First Nations projects, subsidised tickets for disadvantaged students and accessibility projects.
The auction will be a Timed Online auction hosted on Leonard Joel's 'Bid Live Online' platform. This is an internet-only auction that runs for a set duration of time and is available for absentee bidding only. This type of auction allows you to place bids until the scheduled end time for a particular lot. Whoever has the highest bid when the time runs out wins the lot.
To bid, first you will need to create a Leonard Joel Bid Live Online account if you do not have one already, and then you will need to register to bid for the auction. Once you have an account and are registered to bid in the auction, you can leave your maximum bid on the lot/s you wish to purchase. Leonard Joel will execute these absentee bids at the lowest bidding increment within your limit.
Leonard Joel does not allow sniping. If a bid is placed within the last 5 minutes of a lot's scheduled end time, the sale is extended by 5 minutes from the last bid. This way other bidders have a chance to place a bid. Extended bidding continues until 2 hours after the last lot's scheduled end time. You will be notified if you have been outbid.
All bids placed through Invaluable Marketplace will incur a 2% surcharge. However, Leonard Joel's Bid Live Online platform is surcharge free.
All lots sold at auction by Leonard Joel are subject to a 25% buyer's premium, this means 25% of the hammer price will be added to all purchases, inclusive of GST.