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Sydney Modern Project Update: 27 November 2015

You may be aware of a recent opinion piece in the Sydney Morning Herald about the Gallery’s Sydney Modern Project. There were significant inaccuracies in this article and I want to take the opportunity to set the record straight:

Art and artists are at the heart of the Sydney Modern Project

Art is at the heart of everything the Gallery does – this has always been the case and always will be. We do need to expand. The Art Gallery of New South Wales is severely constrained in the art we can display and the art programs we can stage for our visitors. Our plans include almost double the space for displaying art, including a spectacular 1,200sqm gallery for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art at the very heart of the new building. There will also be significant new space for major temporary exhibitions that sometimes bypass Sydney due to our space restrictions. We are indeed proposing a function hall as part of the project, but it will comprise just 1.5% of the total space of the expanded institution. As you know, self-generated revenue such as from special functions allow us to continue to offer free entry and to maintain a diverse and scholarly art program.

Enhancing public open space

The Gallery is a public institution and the Sydney Modern Project is for public use. It’s an open space, designed to display the art collection that belongs to the people of NSW, including in shaded outdoor areas. No land within the Royal Botanic Gardens will be touched by the Sydney Modern Project. The project will transform the under-utilised site to the north of the Gallery comprising two grassed concrete platforms – one over the Cahill Expressway (built 1999) and the other over disused World War II oil tanks.

We welcome discussion

We will continue to invite and encourage discussion about the project. Over 45,000 people have already visited the project display at the Gallery and I hope that many more thousands will engage with us over the coming months as we further develop the Sydney Modern concept design.

Fortunately, I had the opportunity to write a response for the Sydney Morning Herald, which appeared yesterday morning and is available on the Sydney Morning Herald website.

You can also find updates and information about the project on our website

I look forward to speaking with you again over the coming months.

Best wishes

Michael Brand
Art Gallery of New South Wales