Visual artists, the education, business and tourism sectors, and admirers of art have all welcomed news that the longstanding vision for an expanded Art Gallery of News South Wales is to be funded by the State Government. 

The Government’s $244 million commitment to support the transformative vision for the Art Gallery of New South Wales will see the much-loved and historic Gallery re-shaped into one of the world’s most exciting art museums.

Announced by NSW Arts Minister Don Harwin, AGNSW Director Dr Michael Brand said he was delighted with the investment. The expansion will significantly increase space for the Gallery to display art, and is expected to attract two million visitors annually.

“Our expanded Gallery will deliver an sensitively designed building that combines art, architecture and landscape in an extraordinary way, and in one of the most breathtaking locations in the world,” Dr Brand added.

Combined with government funds of $244 million, the Art Gallery of NSW capital campaign, to be officially launched later this year, will raise $100 million in philanthropic support for the project of which $70 million has been pledged.

The expansion will see more of the Gallery’s internationally significant collection, worth $1.3 billion, on display. It will improve the State’s ability to attract more major international art exhibitions to NSW.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art will be front and centre in the expanded Gallery, showcased and celebrated with the prominence it deserves.

The Sydney Modern Project will deliver wider economic benefit to the NSW economy of over $1 billion over the next 25 years and the creation of up to 242 full-time jobs in NSW.

President of the AGNSW Board and Chancellor of UNSW, David Gonski AC, said the extraordinarily generous public and private financial support the Gallery has received to date is testament to the value and importance placed on an expanded state art museum for NSW.

“This decision by the NSW Government is to be applauded and its merit, in my opinion, will be seen and enjoyed by generations to come,” Mr Gonski said.

The expansion will deliver an architectural landmark by Pritzker Prize-winning Japanese architects, SANAA. The Gallery has worked with SANAA for the past two years to evolve the design concept. 

Founded in 1995, SANAA is an architectural and design firm based in Tokyo, headed by Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa, with three partners Yoshitaka Tanase, Yumiko Yamada and Rikiya Yamamoto. 

In recent years SANAA has completed several prominent cultural and educational projects such as Louvre-Lens in France, Rolex Learning Center in Switzerland, New Museum in New York, and the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art in Japan.

The design concept will continue to be refined until the planned submission of a State Significant Development Application in the coming months.

Major construction of the project will commence in 2019 with the expansion due for completion in 2021, in time for the 150th anniversary of the Gallery’s founding in 1871.

The UNSW Art & Design community is excited by the prospect of the City's major visual arts and design museum joining the world's leading insitutitons with new state of art facilities and a beautiful series of transparent terraced galleries arranged across one of this City's most complex and intriguing locations. Congratulations to everyone involved in this historic initiative.