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AGNSW Unveils the Sydney Modern Project and Announces its Inaugural Program

Editorial Assistant, Tiffany Fong, reports on the Art Gallery of NSW’s new exhibition.


The Sydney Modern Project will be opened to the public on 3 December 2022. The announcement was made in late September when the Art Gallery of New South Wales (“AGNSW”) announced the much anticipated inaugural program and permanent exhibitions for the museum’s new wing. [1]


Argentine-Peruvian artist, Adrián Villar Rojas, who is known for collaborative, site specific sculptures was announced as the inaugural commissioned work in The Tank exhibition space. [2] His work, “The End of Imagination”, will utilise the 2200 square metre underground gallery which was repurposed from former WWII naval oil tanks. The space also enables the AGNSW to display its collection of pre-modern, modern and contemporary art across the Asia-Pacific region.


The Sydney Modern Project is the New South Wales Government’s biggest cultural investment since the Sydney Opera House, costing $344 million to build. The Government contributed $244 million and the Art Gallery raised $109 million from philanthropic and corporate donors.


The president of the Art Gallery’s Board of Trustees, David Gonski AC, said, “given the scale of our ambitions for the largest cultural project in Sydney in half a century, I’m very proud we’re delivering it on time and on budget.” [3]


Designed by international Pritzker Prize-winning architects, SANAA, the Sydney Modern features a stunning glass canopy, public art garden, performance spaces and facilities for community programs. Furthermore, the sustainable design using solar panels and rain harvesting system means the building is also forward facing.


Visitors to the Sydney Modern will first meet the Yiribana Gallery, which is dedicated to First Nations’ art. [4] Here, reappraisals of 2000 pieces by Indigenous artists that have been neglected throughout the museum’s exhibition history will be displayed. By moving the Yirabana Gallery from the basement of the AGNSW to the entrance of the Sydney Modern, the importance of Indigenous works in Australia’s contemporary art scene is demonstrated. Subsequently, the large major exhibition gallery on lower levels will enable the AGNSW to double its original floor space so that they can host large exhibitions the museum was previously unable to accept. [5]


Additionally, the gallery also announced nine contemporary artists who were commissioned for new works to be shown with the Sydney Modern Project and its public gardens. The public will look forward to works featuring Indigenous artists and those across the Asia-Pacific region.

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