Art Gallery Expansion Project
Newcastle Art Gallery was Australia’s first purpose-built regional Gallery, officially opened by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in 1977. It remains identical in size and design today.
Nationally recognised as one of the finest public collections in Australia, Newcastle Art Gallery is the custodian of over 7,000 works of art valued at $115M. It is a significant and diverse permanent collection, that provides a time capsule of Australian from the colonial era to contemporary works of today. As a major cultural asset for NSW, Newcastle Art Gallery offers the ability to both tell local stories and inspire new ones through the creation, collection and display of works of art that hold local, national and international importance.
Since moving into the current building, the Gallery’s collection has grown by almost 500, with no extension works since 1977 to address the increased need for space. Makeshift solutions have been implemented to deal with the lack of operational space required, including repurposing exhibition space, mezzanine, conservation room, office supply room and the workshop from their original intention. The repurposing of operational space not only impacts the functionality of the Gallery, but too often works of art are put at risk, and time and resources are wasted due to these makeshift solutions.
In 2018 and 2019, the Gallery achieved the highest visitation in over a decade, with 2020 on track to continue the trend before the impact of COVID-19. City of Newcastle has committed to the Gallery's expansion as the existing 44-year-old building requires upgrading and expanding to provide modern facilities. The expansion of Newcastle Art Gallery more than doubles the floor space of the current Gallery. The new design includes increased exhibition space, new entrance and reception, café and terrace, new retail shop, multi-purpose event and educational program spaces, international standard loading dock, rainwater harvesting tanks and improved mechanical ventilation efficiency. These improvements will significantly increase the level of service to the community to match what is in demand, however infeasible with the current facility.