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Summer opening for Art Gallery of New South Wales expansion

26 April 2022

View from W'll (View from Woolloomooloo, image of the Sydney Modern Project as produced by Kazuyo Sejima + Ryue Nishizawa / SANAA (c) Art Gallery of New South Wales, 2021)

Image of the Sydney Modern Project as produced by Kazuyo Sejima + Ryue Nishizawa / SANAA © Art Gallery of New South Wales

The Art Gallery of New South Wales looks forward to welcoming visitors to its transformed home for art when its new building opens to the public this summer.

The NSW Government today announced the Art Gallery’s expansion, the Sydney Modern Project, will officially open to the public on 3 December 2022.

The centrepiece of the Art Gallery’s highly anticipated transformation is a spectacular new building designed by Pritzker Prize-winning Japanese architects, SANAA. Australian practice Architectus is the executive architect. The new building will almost double exhibition space, including a permanent Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander gallery at entrance level.

Light, transparent and open to its surroundings, the building features galleries specifically designed to accommodate art of the 21st century and incorporates a vast underground art space, repurposed from a decommissioned WWII naval oil tank, for special commissions and performances.

The Art Gallery’s transformation also includes the revitalisation of its much-loved historic building by Australian architects Tonkin Zulaikha Greer, including a complete re-installation of the collection, public art garden and new outdoor art experiences, and a series of major art commissions by leading Australian and international artists.

The $344 million Sydney Modern Project will be the most significant cultural development to open in the city since the Sydney Opera House nearly half a century ago.

Together with the NSW State Government’s $244 million in funding, the Art Gallery has raised more than $100 million from private donors to support this once-in-a-generation cultural investment for future generations.

Acclaimed landscape architect Kathryn Gustafson, with Seattle firm Gustafson Guthrie Nicol, and Australian landscape architects McGregor Coxall are leading the design of landscape and civic spaces of the expanded campus.

Marking the opening of the Sydney Modern Project, nine major site-specific artworks have been commissioned by Lorraine Connelly-Northey (Australia), Karla Dickens (Australia), Simryn Gill (Australia/Malaysia), Jonathan Jones (Australia), Yayoi Kusama (Japan), Lee Mingwei (France/USA), Richard Lewer (Australia), Lisa Reihana (Aotearoa New Zealand), and Francis Upritchard (UK/Italy/Aotearoa New Zealand).

Dr Michael Brand, director, Art Gallery of New South Wales, said: 'All eyes will be on Sydney when our new building opens on our magnificent site on Gadigal Country overlooking Sydney Harbour. Our new art museum campus brings together art, architecture and landscape in spectacular new ways providing visitors with art and cultural experiences only possible here. This is truly the world seen from Sydney.'

'We can’t wait to share our dazzling new stage for art. It will be a place of generosity and inclusion where contemporary art is shown in context with historical art – a place where everyone is welcome,' Brand said.

Maud Page, deputy director and director of collections, Art Gallery of New South Wales, said: 'The Sydney Modern Project allows us to engage our audiences and work with our artists in thrilling new ways.'

'When we open in December visitors will experience art right across our campus – indoor and outdoor – from the inaugural installations in our new building to the completely re-installed galleries in our existing building. Our collection will be accentuated by bold and compelling new art commissions that contribute to important global conversations of our time from our place here in the Asia Pacific,' Page said.

The Art Gallery is the country’s first art museum to be awarded the highest rating for sustainable design with its new building receiving a 6-Star Green Star design rating from the Green Building Council of Australia.

The Sydney Modern Project remains on track with construction of the new building by Richard Crookes Constructions close to completion. Infrastructure NSW is managing the project delivery on behalf of the NSW Government and the Art Gallery.