Build it and they will come

But will they? VAULT looks at the extraordinary amount of investment in bricks and mortar for the arts.

“You need that scale to convey its world class nature,” said National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) director Tony Ellwood, when the plans for the new 30,000-square-metre NGV Contemporary were announced late last year. Ellwood’s comments echoed Michael Brand in the early days of the Art Gallery of New South Wales’ (AGNSW) Sydney Modern project, when he said: “Sydney is a global city and we have to behave like a global institution.”

The $344 million Sydney Modern project is now a quarter of the way there, and is expected to open in 2022. It has been a massive public-private partnership, with AGNSW raising over $100 million.  In Melbourne, the funding for the first stage of NGV Contemporary is coming out of the Victorian Government’s $1.46 billion redevelopment of the Southbank arts precinct, but now the NGV must embark on a major philanthropy campaign, too.  These projects are among the largest in a raft of arts building projects across the country – from the relocation of Sydney’s Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences (MAAS) and Perth’s recent $400 million Museum Boola Bardip, to the construction of new regional galleries and smaller refurbishments. Not all of these projects share Ellwood’s and Brand’s world-class ambitions, but they have a common, codified language.

Full story in Issue 33 of Vault magazine.