The Art Gallery of New South Wales Bills Its $246 Million Expansion as the Biggest Arts Project Since the Sydney Opera House

The new campus is set to open December 3.

Image of the Sydney Modern Project as produced by Kazuyo Sejima + Ryue Nishizawa / SANAA. © 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, 2021.

The Art Gallery of New South Wales in Sydney is getting a major overhaul as part of its Sydney Modern Project, a AU$344 million ($246 million) expansion of the area overlooking the city’s famed harbor.

Touted as the “most significant” cultural development since the debut of the Sydney Opera House in 1973, the project includes a new building designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architectural firm SANAA, with the Australian practice Architectus serving as executive architect, that will be connected to the existing building via a public art garden. Australian-based Tonkin Zulaikha Greer is also involved in the project.

The Sydney Modern. Project by Kazuyo Sejima + Ryue Nishizawa / SANAA © Art Gallery of New South Wales, 2022.

Along with a complete collection rehang, the expanded museum will include a dedicated gallery for a portion of the museum’s 2,000 examples of historic and contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artwork. The presentation will be “accentuated by bold and compelling new art commissions that contribute to important global conversations of our time,” collections director Maud Page said in a statement.

The museum’s footprint of about 250,000 square feet will be doubled with the expansion to 430,556 square feet, which will include column-free galleries with floor-to-ceiling windows to lend visitors views of the city. Another highlight is a decommissioned World War II naval oil tank that has been repurposed as a special commission venue, akin to Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall.

When the Sydney Modern Project is completed and opened to the public on December 3, nine major commissions by international art stars will greet visitors. The artists tapped are Lorraine Connelly-Northey, Karla Dickens, Simryn Gill, Jonathan Jones, Yayoi Kusama, Lee Mingwei, Richard Lewer, Lisa Reihana, and Francis Upritchard.

“All eyes will be on Sydney when our new building opens,” museum director Michael Brand said in a statement. “Our new art campus brings together art, architecture, and landscape in spectacular new ways. This is truly the world seen from Sydney.”

See images of the designs below.

A gallery of The Sydney Modern Project as produced by Kazuyo Sejima + Ryue Nishizawa / SANAA. © Art Gallery of New South Wales, 2021.

A column-free gallery of The Sydney Modern Project as produced by Kazuyo Sejima + Ryue Nishizawa / SANAA. © Art Gallery of New South Wales, 2021.

The lower level of The Sydney Modern Project as produced by Kazuyo Sejima + Ryue Nishizawa / SANAA. © Art Gallery of New South Wales, 2021.

The lower level of The Sydney Modern Project as produced by Kazuyo Sejima + Ryue Nishizawa / SANAA. © Art Gallery of New South Wales, 2021.

The learning studio of The Sydney Modern Project as produced by Kazuyo Sejima + Ryue Nishizawa / SANAA. © Art Gallery of New South Wales, 2021.

The Sydney Modern Project as produced by Kazuyo Sejima + Ryue Nishizawa / SANAA © Art Gallery of New South Wales, 2021. The Tank, with Taloi Havini's <i>Habitat</i> (2017). © Taloi Havi.

The Sydney Modern Project as produced by Kazuyo Sejima + Ryue Nishizawa / SANAA. © Art Gallery of New South Wales, 2021. The Tank, with Taloi Havini’s Habitat (2017). © Taloi Havi.


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