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Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA)

  • Museums
  • The Rocks
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  1. Exterior view of MCA building with Sydney Harbour Bridge in background.
    Photograph: Museum of Contemporary Art/Anna Kucera
  2. Exterior view of MCA entrance and forecourt
    Photograph: Museum of Contemporary Art Australia/Brett Boardman
  3. Exterior view of MCA forecourt with Lindy Lee sculpture installed
    Photograph: Museum of Contemporary Art Australia/Ken Leanfore | Lindy Lee, Secret World of a Starlight Ember, 2020, installation view, Lindy Lee: Moon in a Dew Drop.

Time Out says

Sydney's home of contemporary art on Circular Quay

Perched on Circular Quay, the MCA is Sydney's year-round desination for new age and left-of-centre art. In addition to being open six days a week, the museum is also open late on Friday nights until 9pm.

Once the administration offices of the Maritime Services Board, this waterside museum was overhauled head to toe (well, almost) in 2011 and re-opened in March 2012 with light, airy, uncluttered interiors, more floor space and a boxy new facade. It's not just good looks, either: the rooftop café and sculpture terrace, high-tech education centre, and 120-seat lecture theatrette and forecourt are all worth checking out.

And the original sandstone heart is still there. “We wanted to keep the old building but provide something next to it that says immediately that this is a contemporary building,” says MCA Director Elizabeth Ann Macgregor OBE.

Inside, the galleries themselves are clean, logical and open – with long vistas to entice and draw you in further. While the design of the exterior is about drawing attention, the opposite is the case for the interior. “The most important thing is the art,” says architect Sam Marshall. “In the perfect gallery there would be no architecture visible. For most of the MCA’s exhibitions they install walls, change colours and put different surfaces in. That requires a really simple space with a really simple circulation system.”

Written by Darryn King


140 George St
The Rocks
Opening hours:
Tue-Sun, 10am-5pm; Fri, 10am-9pm

What’s on

Zoe Leonard: Al río / To the River

  • Photography

Sydney’s Museum of Contemporary Art has landed a huge work with the launch of Zoe Leonard’s Al río / To the River. This marks the first major exhibition in the Southern Hemisphere of the American artist’s highly influential photography. In a series of 400 large-scale black and white photographs, Leonard’s exhibition shows a snapshot of life on the border between Mexico and the United States of America in an area known as Rio Grande/Río Bravo. Leonard first began documenting in 2016, covering a 2,000km area and photographing the structures and people who lived on the edge of two worlds.  When speaking about the exhibition, curator Suzanne Cotter says Leonard’s work is an extension of her ability to capture beautiful photography that tells a story around commerce, climate change and colonialism. “Zoe Leonard’s work is widely admired by artists and a broader public around the world for its ambition, its visual and conceptual clarity and its humanity. Al río / To the River is one of the emblematic art works of our time, drawing our attention to the impossibility of binary thinking in a world defined by complexity and in need of empathy,” she said in a press release.  “Following on from lauded presentations in Paris and Luxembourg, the MCA Australia is delighted to be presenting this important new work by Zoe Leonard to audiences in Australia.” Leonard herself has been in Australia to help with the installation of the exhibition and even sat down for an intimate chat with Cotter t

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