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Art Gallery of NSW

  • Art
  • Sydney
  1. Aerial view of the Art Gallery of New South Wales’ new SANAA - designed building,
    Photograph: AGNSW/Iwan Baan
  2. Art Gallery of New South Wales 2017 exterior daylight August feat Archibald Prize banners (C) AGNSW photographer credit Felicity Jenkins
    Photograph: Felicity JenkinsArt Gallery of New South Wales
  3. Installation view of Lisa Reihana GROUNDLOOP 2022
    Photograph: AGNSW/Jenni Carter; installation view of Lisa Reihana's 'GROUNDLOOP' 2022
  4. Yayoi Kusama Flowers that Bloom in the Cosmos 2022
    Photograph: AGNSW/Zan Wimberley; Yayoi Kusama's 'Flowers that Bloom in the Cosmos' 2022
  5. Installation view of Adri á n Villar Rojas The End of Imagination 2022 in the Tank gallery
    Photograph: AGNSW/Jörg Baumann; Installation view of Adrián Villar Rojas' 'The End of Imagination' 2022
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Time Out says

Comprised of two buildings – including the new world-class Sydney Modern expansion – this is the most significant gallery in the city

Established in 1871, the Art Gallery of New South Wales is the leading museum of art in New South Wales and Sydney, and one of Australia's foremost cultural institutions. It holds significant collections of Australian, European and Asian art.

In December 2022, AGNSW officially opened the Sydney Modern Project, an expansive new second museum building touted as the most significant cultural development to be established in the Harbour City since the Sydney Opera House. While everyone and their dog is referring to this gargantuan new gallery as "the Sydney Modern", it is actually officially called the 'Art Gallery of NSW North Building', while the original structure is now called the 'Art Gallery of NSW South Building'. 

You cannot fully comprehend the scale of the mammoth new building – designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architects Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa of SANAA – until you descend down from the ground floor entrance, through the three limestone-clad art pavilions that gently step down towards the harbour, and wander out onto the more than 3,400 square metres of accessible roof ‘art terraces’ and courtyards. Around every corner, new spaces emerge, and reveal with them entirely new styles and arrangements of art. Keep heading down to the fourth level below ground to discover the Tank, an adaptive re-use of a 2,200-square-metre former Second World War fuel bunker.

Rather than obstructing the sweeping views of the city, the architecture of the newer North Building embraces the scenery. Sheer glass-panelled walls, a Wonka-esque glass elevator and layers of escalators with glass railings all work to showcase the landscape as an artwork in its own right. Natural light plays a big role, and on a particularly sunny day the rays stream through those clear walls and the ripped cover to the entrance foyer to light up the indoor and outdoor artworks better than any specially rigged electric lights. 

The Art Gallery of NSW is open every day from 10am to 5pm (except for Christmas Day) and on Wednesday nights it opens the doors until 9pm. Most exhibitions are free to roam, and some blockbuster shows require a ticket.

Alannah Maher
Written by
Alannah Maher

Details

Address:
Art Gallery Road, The Domain
Sydney
2000
Price:
Free
Opening hours:
Daily 10am-5pm

What’s on

Art After Hours

  • Paintings

Every Wednesday evening, the Art Gallery of NSW welcomes you into its hallowed halls and throws the ultimate in absolutely free mid-week social and cultural events. Until 10pm, Art After Hours offers a regular program of live music, lectures and celebrity talks, drawing workshops, film screenings, gallery tours and other events – and, of course, nocturnal access to its latest exhibitions.  The program is usually themed around the exhibitions currently showing at the gallery, and you can join guided tours around the gallery at 5.30pm. Plus, a free courtesy bus runs every 20 minutes from 7pm until closing from the gallery to various city locations that are all close to public transport – so, no matter where you need to go, they have you covered.  Head to Art After Hours to jazz up your Wednesday night, and to inject a liberal splash of arty delight into your week, and your life.  Want more high culture? Check out our list of the best art exhibitions on across Sydney right now.

ArtExpress

ArtExpress proves that art knows no age limit. In 2023, the Art Gallery of NSW is celebrating an impressive 40 years of a unique exhibition that showcases the talents of Year 12 artists from across NSW who have poured their souls into their Visual Arts course as part of their HSC.  Amongst the pressure of essays, readings and classwork, Year 12 students studying Visual Arts need to produce a ‘Major Work’; a piece of art that represents and explores the many social and political issues that are close to their hearts as young Australians. Students may approach this major work in whatever media form they prefer, with the ArtExpress exhibition ranging from textile and fibre to photomedia to ceramics – and everything in between. A prized spot on the walls of the state gallery within this exhibition is possibly one of the greatest forms of recognition for young NSW artists following all the blood, sweat and tears of their art-making process during the HSC. Of the 8,028 Visual Arts major works submitted for examination this year, only 43 have been chosen for the showcase. The artists hail from high schools all over the state, with students from cities, regional suburbs and a diversity of schools all getting their own slice of representation. The Art Gallery of NSW hopes to utilise ArtExpress as a catalyst for young artists to pursue a pathway in the arts. Student alumni from over the 40 years include the likes of Ben Quilty (1991), David Griggs (1994), Jasper Knight (1997), Julie Fr

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