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  • Oct 22, 2020

Multimillion-Dollar Restoration For Art Gallery Of New South Wales

The refurbishment of the Art Gallery of New South Wales (AGNSW) and the construction of its new Sydney Modern building are both expected to be completed in 2022. Rendering of the Sydney Modern Project produced by Kazuyo Sejima + Ryue Nishizawa / SANAA. Copyright and courtesy AGNSW.

On October 20, the Art Gallery of New South Wales (AGNSW) revealed plans to revitalize its historic building as part of the AUD 344 million (USD 244 million) Sydney Modern expansion project. Restoration of significant architectural features of the Gallery, originally built at the turn of the 20th century, is expected to begin in 2021, with completion set for 2022 in time for the opening of the new Sydney Modern space. 

Headed by Australian architects Tonkin Zulaikha Greer (TZG), the plan includes a refurbishment of the iconic entrance vestibule designed by architect Walter Liberty Vernon and the 19th-century Grand Courts galleries; the expansion and relocation of the Capon Research Library and National Art Archive; as well as the installation of energy-saving lights and upgraded public facilities. TZG will also uncover the large windows on the northeast facade of the Andrew Andersons-designed 1972 wing, which will overlook the 7,830-square-meter Sydney Modern building. 

The revitalization and extension project is the largest public-private partnership in Australia’s art scene, attracting AUD 244 million (USD 173 million) in funding from the NSW Government and more than AUD 100 million (USD 71 million) collected through fundraising. The expansion will nearly double the AGNSW’s exhibition spaces. Construction of the Sydney Modern building and art garden, designed by Japanese architectural firm SANAA, has already begun. 

Originally constructed between 1896–1909, the AGNSW building has undergone significant remodeling, including extensions in 1988 and 2003 that opened up more space for Asian art. The institution plans to create a gallery for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art in Sydney Modern, as well as a contemporary art space repurposed from a World War II-era oil tank.

The Gallery remains open during construction but the Library will be closed from December 12 to August 2021.

Margarita Cheng is an editorial intern at ArtAsiaPacific.

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