$246 Million Expansion of Art Gallery of New South Wales Bolsters Cultural Development of Sydney Harbor

  • April 28, 2022 22:01

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

Art Gallery of New South Wales is the city’s largest cultural development since the Sydney Opera House

The transformation of the Art Gallery of New South Walesthe Sydney Modern Projectwill open to the public on December 3, 2022, following a AU$344 million ($246 million) expansion. Located on a magnificent site overlooking Sydney Harbor, the Art Gallery is one of Australia’s pre-eminent cultural institutions. The Sydney Modern Project is the most significant cultural development to open in the city since the Sydney Opera House nearly half a century ago. The transformation will create a new art museum campus with two buildings connected by a public art garden.


A key aspect of the expansion will be exceptional displays of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art, which will be showcased both in a dedicated gallery, the first to be encountered by visitors on entrance level of the new building, as well as across the entire expanded campus. The Sydney Modern Project almost doubles exhibition space and includes a spectacular new building designed by Pritzker Prize-winning Japanese architects SANAA, with Australian practice Architectus as executive architect.

Image of the Sydney Modern Project as produced by Kazuyo Sejima + Ryue Nishizawa / SANAA © Art Gallery of New South Wales, 2021

Other features of the project include the revitalization of the Art Gallery’s historic building by Australian architects Tonkin Zulaikha Greer, including a complete re-installation of the collection; extensive outdoor art experiences, and a series of major art commissions across the campus by leading international and Australian artists.

Light, transparent and open to its surroundings, SANAA’s building responds to the site’s topography with a series of art pavilions that cascade down toward the harbor. The new building, which expands formal exhibition space from 96,875 to 172,222 square feet, will feature galleries specifically designed to accommodate art of the 21st century as well as special installations in circulation spaces. It incorporates a vast, columned underground art space, repurposed from a decommissioned World War II naval oil tank, creating a 23,680-square-foot gallery with 23-foot-high ceilings for special commissions and performances.

Yayoi Kusama has created an exuberant floral sculpture, prominently positioned on the new building’s terrace overlooking Sydney Harbor. Inspired by the endemic plants of south-eastern Australia, the sculpture will be visible over three floors, inside and out.
Ota Fine Arts

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 commissions have been awarded to leading artists: Waradgerie artist Lorraine Connelly-Northey (Australia); Wiradjuri artist Karla Dickenss (Australia); Simryn Gill (Australia/Malaysia); Wiradjuri and Kamilaroi artist Jonathan Jones (Australia); Yayoi Kusama (Japan); Lee Mingwei (France/USA); Richard Lewer (Australia); Māori artist Lisa Reihana (Aotearoa New Zealand); Francis Upritchard (UK/Italy/AotearoaNew Zealand).

Image of the Sydney Modern Project as produced by Kazuyo Sejima + Ryue Nishizawa / SANAA © Art Gallery of New South Wales, 2021. Featuring Taloi Havini Habitat 2017 © Taloi Havini

The Art Gallery’s collection of Australian art is among the finest and broadest to be found anywhere. From the time of its founding, the Art Galleryhas collected and worked with the artists of its time from Australia and around the world. The Art Gallery maintains the New South Wales state art collection of more than 36,000 objects, including more than 2,000 historic and contemporary works of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art, acquired over the past 74years.

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