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Construction has started on the Art Gallery of NSW's new $344 million gallery

Artist impression of Sydney Modern - Art Gallery of NSW
Image of the Sydney Modern Project as produced by Kazuyo Sejima & Ryue Nishizawa/SANAA © Art Gallery of New South Wales, 2018

It's been a long time coming as plans have been made, drawn and re-drawn, but construction started today on the Art Gallery of NSW's long-awaited Sydney Modern project. The $344 million building, designed by Tokyo-based, Pritzker Prize-winning architects SANAA, will branch off from the existing gallery in the Domain, almost doubling the exhibition space available.

The gallery is anticipating its annual visitor numbers will grow from last year's 1.35 million to 2 million annually. That will put the gallery not too far behind Australia's most-visited gallery, the National Gallery of Victoria, which currently attracts around 2.5 million visitors each year.

There'll be a strong focus on the gallery's impressive collection of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art, which is currently a little bit hidden in a gallery at the very bottom of the building. There'll also be a major exhibition space, new educational spaces and – the thing we find most cool – a contemporary gallery space built inside a huge decommissioned WWII oil tank.

Check out the video below for an idea of what to expect.

The expansion was funded with $244 million from the NSW state government and the remainder from private donors.

As with pretty much any major infrastructure in Sydney, there have been a few bumps along the way, but the current timeline should have the building completed in 2022. It's still a long time to wait, but we're already dreaming of walking through those doors for the first time.

The Art Gallery of NSW is staying open for the entire construction period. Check out the gallery's newly-opened summer blockbuster, Japan Supernatural.