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National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, Australia

Tuesday 26 May 2009

An Australian revival

'Courtesy of NGA, image by Haycraft Duloy 
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National Gallery of Australia brought back to life with $92.9 million regeneration 

First completed in 1983, the National Gallery of Australia stands itself as a work of art and a pillar of architectural splendour. Designed by Australian architect, Colin Madigan, the Gallery is his best known work and has housed Australia's finest artworks for over 25 years. As Australia's art collection grows, however, an expansion and renovation was deemed necessary and the Principle Director of one of the firms responsible for the iconic Olympic Watercube, PTW Architects' Andrew Andersons, was commissioned.

The expansion is three-fold consisting of the $20million renovation of the existing building which has now completed, the $67.9million addition of further space, a new entrance and improved accessibility, and the $5million landscaping of the surrounding area, designed by mcgregor + partners. The gallery expansion and public domain works link to the adjacent Australian High Court and the National Portrait Gallery completing a new ensemble of arts and civic facilities in Australia's Parliamentary Triangle. Due to its cultural significance and location, in 2006 the Australian Government announced they would provide funding for the project.

"The Gallery is committed to presenting the national collection of art, together with exhibitions, education and public programs and to providing facilities which meet visitors’ expectations, particularly for those visitors with special needs, such as people with disabilities," reads a statement by the NGA. "The Gallery also acknowledges its role as custodian of a significant, heritage-listed public building and sculpture garden. To maintain this commitment, the Gallery building must be extended and enhanced to better serve its visitors by removing barriers to access and to meet the challenges of a growing collection of works of art."

Developed with the aim of enhancing Madigan's original design, the primary focus of the redesign is to improve the entry point which gains an auditorium, cloakroom, reception facilities, a cafe, bookstore and a function suite which will open onto a newly-created Australian Garden which include a skyspace sculpture by American artist James Turrell. The renovation of existing facilities has already completed and freed up more exhibition space but within the PTW designed entrance a dedicated gallery space for the 1988 Aboriginal Memorial, one of the most important works of art in the national collection, will be the first work visitors will see upon entry. Above the Function Hall will be 10 new galleries dedicated to the display of Indigenous Australian Art, the first designed specifically for this purpose, which will connect with the existing galleries on the main level.

The completion of Andersons' redesign is set to complete next year, adding to his portfolio of influential works.


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