Sydney Modern Project: Inside The Art Gallery of NSW’s New $344 Million Museum
— Updated on 2 December 2022

Sydney Modern Project: Inside The Art Gallery of NSW’s New $344 Million Museum

— Updated on 2 December 2022
Chris Singh
Chris Singh

As of this Saturday, Sydney now has a massive new $344 million museum, shooting off from the well-established Art Gallery of New South Wales as one of the most significant cultural developments to open in the city’s 234-year history. Already over 15,000 people have registered to be amongst the first at Sydney Modern Project on its opening day, Saturday, December 3, validating a decade’s worth of construction for the project, which includes 3,400 square metres of accessible rooftop art terraces and courtyards, as well a converted World War II fuel bunker that’s been transformed into a 2,220-square-metre art space with a seven-metre-high ceiling.

Numerous spaces make up this beastly project, which was designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architects Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizara of SANNA, fashioned as a series of descending spaces primarily features across three limestone art pavilions that jut out towards the harbour.

Along with a public art garden and a civic plaza, Sydney Modern is made up of highly conceptual spaces and landscapes with premium features like twin black granite reflecting pools in the forecourt of the original building. More than 8,000 square metres of greenery has been planted on the roof comprising 50,000 Australian native species and 70% more trees, making Sydney Modern one of the most biodiverse spaces in Sydney. It aligns with the six-star Green Star rating achieved by The Gallery of New South Wales, which uses 100% renewable energy where rooftop solar panels generate 10% of the gallery’s energy needs.

Water seems to be a pervasive theme for the new modern art museum, with a Welcome Plaza canopy made from 108 pieces of curved, form-cast glass designed with notable ripple patterns to reflect Sydney Harbour.

The aim to create “seamless connections between art, architecture and landscape,” as AGNSW director Michael Brand puts it, seem to be very much on the money here, presenting a significant cultural milestone for Sydney that should centre as one of the city’s biggest attractions moving forward.

A dedicated gallery space, dubbed Yiribana, will be the first gallery visitors walk through, aimed completely at highlighting and examining Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art.

Sydney Modern has been built around an original building which was designed by Walter Liberty Vernon in 1986, reimagined by Tonkin Zulaikha Greer as a very communal and educational space with a members’ lounge, the country’s first children’s art library, a Capon Research Library and a National Art Archive.

What’s On At Sydney Modern Project?

One of the major pieces at Sydney Modern
Adrián Villar Rojas’ ‘The End of Imagination’ 2022. Credit: AGNSW/Jörg Baumann.

The team behind Sydney’s newest modern art museum seem to be tackling summer holidays with a more-is-more approach. From Saturday, December 3, Sydney Modern will offer a free opening program of exhibitions, collection displays and new commissions with works by over 900 artists from around the world.

Highlights from the collection so far appear to be ‘The End of Imagination,’ by Argentinian artist Adrian Villar Rojas, which occupies a large section of the subterranean Tank – the former World War II bunker. Also on the must-see list is Samara Golden’s illusionary ‘Guts’ and a tower of florals by none other than Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama.

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Chris Singh
Chris is a freelance Travel, Food, and Technology writer. He has had work published by The AU Review, Junkee Media and Australian Traveller Media and holds tertiary qualifications in Psychology and Sociology.


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