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Exhibition of John Coburn's Tapestries

New tours now available due to popular demand

In this special one-day event on 22 May 2019, take part in a free 35-minute guided viewing of John Coburn’s Curtain of the Sun and Curtain of the Moon. These large-scale tapestries were originally designed for the Joan Sutherland Theatre and Drama Theatre.

“I was very excited about the whole thing... I couldn’t wait to get home to put my ideas down on paper. I designed the two curtains that night, really.”

Tapestries artist, John Coburn AM, 1973


Exhibition of the Opera House’s Curtain of the Sun and Curtain of the Moon 

For the first time in more than a decade, and for one-day only, the Sydney Opera House will publicly display John Coburn’s magnificent Curtain of the Sun and Curtain of the Moon in their original Joan Sutherland Theatre and Drama Theatre settings. 

Commissioned for the 1973 opening of the Opera House by architect Peter Hall, and created by the Australian modern abstract artist John Coburn, the tapestries are among Australia’s most significant large-scale artworks and occupy an important place in the Opera House’s history.

The tapestries operated as house curtains in the two theatres until the mid-1980s. They underwent extensive conservation and restoration works in the 1990s due to their deterioration. Concern for their conservation has kept them out of the public eye, except for rare occasions such as in 2006 to mark John Coburn’s death.

This special viewing is a component of the Opera House’s ongoing heritage interpretation program, which includes a range of activities to engage the community in the building’s heritage. As part of this work, the Opera House is committed to exploring options for longer-term hanging, yearly exhibitions and digital content.

The Australian Government has kindly provided funding support for the exhibition through its Protecting National Historic Sites Program.

Restoring the Coburn tapestries

The story of how the curtains came to be hung again.

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Help conserve the curtains for future generations

The Opera House is a not-for-profit organisation.

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