Image of the Sydney Modern Project as produced by Kazuyo Sejima + Ryue Nishizawa / SANAA
About the project
The Art Gallery of New South Wales’ expansion – the Sydney Modern Project – will create a new art museum experience across two buildings connected by a public art garden.
Our new building, designed by SANAA, will almost double exhibition space with seamless connections between indoor and outdoor spaces, delivering rich and diverse experiences for all our visitors. The Gallery will remain open during construction, which is scheduled for completion in 2022.
Highlights of the expansion include a new prominent destination for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art; a large gallery for major exhibitions; a unique contemporary art space repurposed from a decommissioned WWII oil tank; and flexible spaces to expand learning programs for schools, communities and families.
We are setting a new benchmark for cultural institutions as the first public art museum in Australia to achieve the highest environmental standard for design. The Green Building Council of Australia has awarded the Sydney Modern Project a 6-star Green Star design rating.
The $344 million project is the largest public-private partnership of its kind to be achieved to date in the arts in Australia. Together with the NSW Government’s $244 million in funding, the Gallery has attracted unprecedented philanthropic support, exceeding its fundraising target of $100 million to support construction of the new building.
Infrastructure NSW is managing the delivery of the Sydney Modern Project on behalf of the NSW Government and Gallery. Richard Crookes Constructions is the selected contractor.
- Close to double the current building’s exhibition space to enable the Gallery to show more of the State’s outstanding art collection and attract major national and international exhibitions to Sydney
- A new prominent destination showcasing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art and culture
- Increased visitation to at least 2 million per year, including capacity to significantly increase student and teacher visits
- Dedicated spaces and facilities for learning and participation, with innovative and interactive programs
- Architectural and cultural landmark where people, art and ideas come together in the heart of Sydney’s eastern cultural precinct
- The first public art museum in the nation to achieve the highest environmental standard for design with a 6-star Green Star design rating from the Green Building Council of Australia
- The design maximises and enhances open space across the site with courtyards, green roofs and three landscaped accessible roof terraces
- Improved 24/7 public access, landscaping and civic amenity for all visitors and an improved universal pathway with two new lifts to better connect Woolloomooloo with the CBD
- Wider economic benefit to the NSW economy of more than $1 billion over the next 25 years, including the creation of 242 full-time jobs
- Enhanced digital capabilities to expand engagement with schools, communities, artists and visitors
- Create exciting new opportunities for the Gallery’s staff, volunteers and membership bodies
New spaces to enjoy art in all its forms
- The first gallery visitors encounter in the new building will showcase Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art, bringing it front and centre in the expanded Gallery. This space is more than 40% larger than the Yiribana Gallery for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art in the existing building.
- Large 1300sqm major exhibition gallery with 5.5-metre-high ceilings to host national and international shows.
- Large 1160sqm column-free contemporary gallery with 5.5-metre-high ceilings and a glazed wall looking out to Woolloomooloo Bay.
- Spectacular underground art space repurposed from a decommissioned WWII naval oil tank. The unique 2,200sqm gallery with 7-metre-high ceilings will be used for exhibitions and performances, providing access to this public asset for the first time.
- Purpose-built learning and participation studios for younger audiences, school programs and a variety of public programs
- New public Art Garden connecting the new and existing buildings through art and landscape.
- Flexible multipurpose space to support a variety of public programs, including performance and lectures
- Variety of smaller galleries including a dedicated ‘black box’ studio for multimedia works.
A Gallery for the people of NSW
As the State’s public gallery, our art collection belongs to the people of NSW. As such, we continue to provide communities across the state with inclusive, engaging and accessible opportunities to participate and experience the Gallery’s collections, temporary exhibitions, programs and facilities, whether physically or remotely. The Gallery has a long history of strong support and partnership with other visual art institutions, communities, educational organisations and audiences across NSW. The Sydney Modern Project will help further strengthen and grow this engagement.
In this city we need a stadium that celebrates culture and thought.
— Ben Quilty, artist and Trustee
The expanded Gallery will be what Sydney, particularly Western Sydney, and NSW deserve – a visionary art museum of global attraction, enhanced capacity and economic impact. Embracing the future, Sydney Modern will deliver enriched cultural, educative and community benefit.
— John Kirkman, executive director, Information and Cultural Exchange (ICE)
The new museum concept is magical. It is light, expansive and it breathes. It invites an audience to come through and not only look at art, but also its context and location.
— Lindy Lee, artist
The Sydney Modern Project is an exciting and absolutely necessary addition to the cultural offering of NSW. The Gallery provides invaluable support to artists, research, education, and public engagement. At present the Gallery is doing wonderful work, but could achieve so much more given additional support and refreshed infrastructure.
— Alexie Glass-Kantor, executive director, Artspace
This is an exciting and much-needed project that will help boost Australia’s reputation as a global arts and cultural leader.
— Margy Osmond, CEO, Tourism & Transport Forum