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A curtain with yellow-pink tapestry art.

Coburn Tapestries

Discover the famous Coburn tapestries, the Curtain of the Sun and the Curtain of the Moon, the original house curtains for the Opera Theatre and Drama Theatre stages. Learn about the history behind this great Australian story, and get creative with hands-on art activities inspired by these iconic works. 

What are the Coburn Tapestries?

In 1969, architect Peter Hall commissioned John Coburn, an Australian modern abstract artist known for vivid geometric paintings, to design the Sydney Opera House theatre curtains. 

Coburn worked with the weavers Pinton Frères in France for three years to make the magnificent tapestries. The curtains, named Curtain of the Sun for the Opera Theatre (now called the Joan Sutherland Theatre) and Curtain of the Moon for the Drama Theatre were hung in 1972. 

In the 1980s they were removed due to concerns of their preservation in a live theatre environment, and have since been conserved and restored, only making few special appearances throughout the decades.

Stream, Read & Listen

Two men in a suit.

The making of the Coburn Tapestries

John Coburn describes the weaver’s craft in Felletin, France. 

A team of men and women installing the tapestry curtain in the Concert hall.

The Coburn Tapestries return to our stages

In May 2019, the tapestries were exhibited for public viewing for the first time in over a decade. 

A curtain in the Concert hall with tapestry art.
Sydney Opera House, Opera Hall with Curtain of the Sun, designed by John Coburn.

Hanging the Coburn Tapestries

Watch this time lapse of the Curtain of the Sun being hung in the Joan Sutherland Theatre.

A man in a suit staring at artwork on a wall.
Read Art

Rosso’s tapestry obsession

Tim Ross, design enthusiast and presenter, has become fixated with the Opera House's historic tapestries – so much so he's hosting a podcast about them.

Classroom resources

A curtain in the Concert hall with tapestry art.

Art activities

Visual Arts activities for the classroom.