The Art Gallery of NSW's Sydney Modern Project Has Arrived with Immersive Installations and Water Views

This new Sydney art gallery spans four floors, boasts works from Yayoi Kusama and Takashi Murakami, and has been called New South Wales' "most significant cultural build since the Opera House".
Ben Hansen
Published on December 01, 2022

Australia's global cultural clout is about to receive a huge boost, with the Art Gallery of NSW's new Sydney Modern Project finally throwing open its doors on Saturday, December 3. Perched upon a hill next to the original AGNSW, looking down on Woolloomooloo's Finger Wharf, the world-class museum boasts a series of stunning and immersive exhibition spaces housed within an expansive open-plan glass building.

On Tuesday, NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet called the Sydney Modern Project New South Wales' "most significant cultural build since the Opera House".

Aerial view of the Art Gallery of New South Wales' new SANAA - designed building, 2022, photo © Iwan Baan

The ambitious four-level, $344-million project is filled with breathtaking works of art. Wonder through the gallery and you'll discover fully immersive exhibition spaces, vibrant works from world-renowned artists, and huge sculptures welcoming you into the building or looking out onto the harbour.

The first piece of art that's sure to catch your eye is the pair of massive, larger-than-life bronze statues that stand at the front of the museum. Created by artist Francis Upritchard, these tree-like figures are playfully incorporated into the outdoor foyer of the building.

Installation view of the Dreamhome: Stories of Art and Shelter exhibition in the new building at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, featuring Samara Golden Guts 2022 © Samara Golden, photo © Iwan Baan

Once inside, there's plenty to discover. As you enter, head into the Yiribana Gallery that's been relocated from the lowest level of the original AGNSW building to the entrance of Sydney Modern. Here you'll find a showcase of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artworks spanning across mediums and messages. One of the nicest touches of this new Yiribana Gallery is its floor-to-ceiling glass windows that offer views of the surrounding ocean and trees, connecting the space with its natural surroundings.

Continue around the gallery and you'll find works from two of Japan's most renowned artists. Yayoi Kusama has created a set of massive spotted flowers that can be observed from a large outdoor space overlooking Woolloomooloo. One level below these multi-coloured structures, you'll find Japan Supernatural: Vertiginous After Staring at the Empty World Too Intensely, I Found Myself Trapped in the Realm of Lurking Ghosts and Monsters, a chaotic 2019 artwork from Takashi Murakami.

The Tank space in the Art Gallery of New South Wales' new SANAA - designed building, 2022, photo © Art Gallery of New South Wales, Jenni Carter

Some of the opening exhibitions include Dreamhome: Stories of Art and Shelter, a multi-media exhibition ruminating on the concept of home and shelter; Outlawa series of works from rule-breaking artists inside a space purpose-built for evolving time-based art; and Adrián Villar Rojas: The End of Imagination, a fully immersive work that places visitors in the gallery's underground exhibition space called The Tank, shrouded in darkness with each piece of art slowly being revealed by a set of spotlights.

For five years now, the Sydney Modern Project has been on its way — originally announced in 2017, officially given a green light in 2018 and revealing its first commissioned artworks in March 2022.

Exterior view of the Welcome Plaza of the Art Gallery of New South Wales ' new building , featuring Yayoi Kusama Flowers that Bloom in the Cosmos 2022 , photo © Iwan Baan

The Sydney Modern Project is located next to the Art Gallery of NSW. It will open on Saturday, December 3 with extended opening hours of 10am–10pm until Sunday, December 11.

Published on December 01, 2022 by Ben Hansen
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