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19 Sep 2022

Ahead of the Opening of Sydney Modern; ‘We won’t be knocking this one down'

Ahead of the Opening of Sydney Modern; ‘We won’t be knocking this one down'

Prior to Sydney Modern's debut in December, major construction work has been completed, and artworks are being installed. Sydney Modern is the city's glitzy new venue for contemporary art.

As he witnessed the symbolic transfer of the $344 million Sydney Modern project from construction tycoon Richard Crookes to the Art Gallery of NSW, NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet joked, "We will not be knocking this one down," referring to the reconstructed Allianz Stadium.

“For far too long, projects like this have been seen to be vanity projects; they are not,” he said.

The landscaping, exterior work, and interior fit-out of the Art Gallery of NSW expansion have all been finished after ten years of planning and three years of construction.

590 builders and artisans completed the job by December 3 mostly on schedule and within the allotted budget, despite lockdowns and unusually heavy rains.

The building's cascading design may be seen on the first tour within Sydney Modern. A 250-meter rammed earth wall that spans two levels and a lofty backdrop of glass surround three significant art pavilions.

A total of 64,000 limestone bricks were carved by stonemasons and used to clad each of the pavilions.

Sydney Modern was built for $344 million, making it one of the state's greatest cultural investments since the Sydney Opera House.

The NSW Government provided $244 million in funding for the extension, while the Art Gallery raised an additional $109 million from private and corporate donations.

It's a collaboration that was created by "art and beauty on the one hand and practicality on the other," according to David Gonski, president of the Art Gallery of NSW.

The new standalone structure, built by worldwide Pritzker Prize-winning architects SANAA, is situated to the north of the original gallery's sandstone structure and offers expansive views of Woolloomooloo, the harbor, and the city skyline.

The Welcome Plaza's fritted glass canopy is located outside and is seven meters above the ground. Michael Brand, director of the Art Gallery of New South Wales, said that a shop made of transparent surfboard resin will start to be placed adjacent the following week.

First encountered by visitors upon admission is the Yiribana gallery, which showcases works of art by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists.

According to Arts Minister Ben Franklin, Yiribana Gallery has relocated from the original Walter Vernon-designed building's basement level to Sydney Modern's entry level to highlight the importance of Indigenous art in the building's future programs.

On the lower level, the large major exhibition gallery will take touring blockbuster exhibitions of a size, Brand said, the gallery had, until now, not been able to accept.

Premier Perrottet said art was a mirror on society.

The Premier said that Sydney Modern was an example of social good in action when asked why Parramatta still lacked a government-supported art gallery while the state invested four times as much money to restore the $874 million Sydney Football Stadium.

According to him, Western Sydney benefited from "a combination of everything," including health care, transportation, and education.