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The Art Gallery of New South Wales expansion will nearly double its exhibition space

SANAA is designing the project.

October 13, 2020 |
AGNSW view from Woolloomooloo

All images courtesy Kazuyo Sejima + Ryue Nishizawa / SANAA© Art Gallery of New South Wales, 2018

A major expansion for the Art Gallery of New South Wales (AGNSW), dubbed the Sydney Modern Project, is currently under construction in the heart of Sydney’s eastern cultural precinct.

As part of the $344 million project, a new standalone building, designed by SANAA, will be built and connected to the existing Gallery building by an outdoor public art garden. The garden will be accessible 24/7, creating a civic campus on its site overlooking Sydney Harbor.


AGNSW SMP and Sydney Skyline


The new building will sit in contrast to the Gallery’s 19th-century Neo-classical building. SANAA’s building will be light, transparent, and open to its surroundings, responding to the site’s topography with a series of pavilions that cascade down towards Woolloomooloo Bay. The building will feature galleries specifically designed to accommodate art of the 21st century and will almost double AGNSW’s total exhibition space from 97,000 sf to 172,000-sf.


AGNSM SMP lower level 1Lower level 1.


Visitors to the new building will be met with works by Indigenous artists installed in a dedicated 10,333-sf gallery. Works from the Gallery’s internationally significant permanent collection will also be displayed. Large scale contemporary works will be displayed in a vast, columned underground art space repurposed from a decommissioned WWII naval oil tank. The space’s 23,700-sf gallery will 23-foot-high ceilings will be used for special commissioned installations and site-specific performances, providing public access to the unique space for the first time.


AGNSW SMP view from the entrance pavilionView from the entrance pavilion.


Other spaces in the new building will include:

· A 13,993-sf major exhibition gallery with 18-foot-high ceilings to host national and international shows

· A 12,486-sf column-free contemporary gallery with 18-foot-high ceilings and a glazed facade looking out to Woolloomooloo Bay

· Purpose-built learning and participation studios for younger audiences, school programs, and a variety of public programs, including a dedicated studio for creating multimedia works

· Flexible spaces to support public programs, including performance and lectures

· Smaller galleries, including a project gallery and a suite of spaces for multimedia works

· Integrated indoor and outdoor spaces, including accessible landscaped rooftop art terraces and courtyards, as well as the art garden and civic plaza.

The Sydney Modern Project will also give prominence to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art and revitalize the Gallery’s existing building. The project is slated for completion in 2022.


The AGNSW oil tank galleryOil tank gallery.

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