An exciting new era in the cultural life of Australia begins with the expansion of Art Gallery of New South Wales’s new building, opened to the public at the end of 2022.
The new standalone building, called Sydney Modern (aka the North Building), was designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architects Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa of SANAA. The new building is the centerpiece of the expansion and the most significant cultural development to open in Sydney in nearly half a century. The completion of the project creates a new art museum campus comprising two buildings connected by a public art garden overlooking Sydney Harbor.
“Central to every decision made in the development and design of this project, and at the heart of the NSW Government’s investment, has been an unwavering focus on supporting access to art of a world-leading standard, education opportunity without limits, and community enrichment with a tangible benefit,” said Dominic Perrottet, Premier, New South Wales.
Together with NSW Government’s AUS$244 million (about $167 million) in funding, the Art Gallery raised more than AUS$100 million (about $68 million) from private donors to support the Sydney Modern expansion project, a once-in-a-generation cultural investment. The partnership is the largest government and philanthropic arts partnership of its kind to be successfully achieved in Australia.
Located in one of the world’s most beautiful cultural districts, the SANAA-designed building, with Architectus as executive architects, features multiple sightlines to its parkland and harbor surroundings. It is the first public art museum in Australia to achieve a 6-star Green Star design rating.
Architectural features include three limestone-clad art pavilions gently stepping down toward the harbor, 820 feet of rammed earth wall over two levels made with material sourced from across NSW, and 36,000 square feet of accessible roof art terraces and courtyards. New art spaces include a column-free gallery; a gallery for time-based art; and adaptive re-use of a decommissioned World War II naval fuel bunker, now known as the Tank, a 24,000-square-foot space that is one of Australia’s most unique art destinations.
The expansion almost doubles exhibition space for the display and enjoyment of art. It also creates a prominent new destination for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art, with a larger dedicated space to showcase the Art Gallery’s internationally renowned collection.
Additionally, the revitalization of the existing building, designed by Tonkin Zulaikha Greer Architects, restores original architectural features of the building, providing more space for art and scholarship and enhancing visitor experience and sustainable operations.
“An Indigenous lens is held up across our displays as they powerfully herald new art histories to be written from here,” said Maud Page, deputy director and director of collections, Art Gallery. “Our curatorial narratives are amplified through networks connecting the urgent social issues that motivate artists in the 21st century, including gender, race, the value of labor, and a strong concern for the precariousness of the natural world.”
Some new exhibitions in 2023 include Dreamhome: Stories of Art and Shelter, Making Worlds, Outlaw, and Adrián Villar Rojas: The End of Imagination. Admission to the Art Gallery of New South Wales is free, as are most exhibitions and events.
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