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  • Sep 27, 2022

Sydney Modern Unveils Inaugural Program for Opening in December

Installation view of the Yiribana Gallery featuring (left) NED GRANT, FRED GRANT, PATJU PRESLEY, LAWRENCE PENNINGTON, AND SIMON HOGAN‘s Wati Kutjara (2019), opposite (right) RICHARD BELL and EMORY DOUGLAS’s We can be heroes (2014). Photo by Jenni Carter. Copyright and courtesy the Art Gallery of New South Wales.

Following three years of construction, the Sydney Modern Project, the expanded art museum of Art Gallery of New South Wales (AGNSW), will open to the public on December 3. The announcement on September 22 was accompanied with highlights of its inaugural program and permanent exhibitions. 

Doubling AGNSW’s original space to display its collection of pre-modern, modern, and contemporary art across the Asia-Pacific region, the 22,000-square-meter complex comprises a new standalone building and a public art garden, in addition to AGNSW’s renovated, old building. The new building, designed by Japanese architects SANAA, overlooks the Sydney Harbour and offers a vast view of Sydney’s skyline to visitors. The building is rated highly for its sustainable design, based on its extensive solar panels and rainwater harvesting system. 

At Sydney Modern’s new building, the inaugural program spotlights the Yiribana gallery, a permanent exhibition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art at the entrance level. This gallery will feature works by Indigenous artists, following a reappraisal of 2,000 works that have been neglected throughout the museum’s exhibition history. Found on the lower ground level of the new building are two decommissioned World War II naval oil tanks, which have been transformed into a gallery space for large-scale works and performances, including sculptures by Adrián Villar Rojas. The building also includes spaces and facilities for educational programs and community activities. A new entry plaza will connect the new and old buildings.

The Sydney Modern Project also commissioned contemporary artists to create nine new works, which will be shown both inside the new building and outside at the public garden. Highlights include a monumental work by Wiradjuri artist Lorraine Connelly-Northey, which explores the nomadic life lived by Aboriginal peoples; a video work by Lisa Reihana; and a floral sculpture by Yayoi Kusama. 

The AUD 344 million (USD 224 million) Sydney Modern Project is the city’s largest cultural investment since the completion of Sydney Opera House in 1973. 

Lily Wong is ArtAsiaPacific’s editorial intern.