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Expanded Newcastle Art Gallery to be a ‘major drawcard’


Newcastle Art Gallery (NAG) director Lauretta Morton OAM believes a new-look “expanded centre” will be a major drawcard for the City.

It follows Friday’s announcement – by Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce and NSW Deputy Premier Paul Toole – that the Australian and NSW governments will provide a $10 million grant for the long-awaited project.

The venture includes an additional 1,600 square meters of exhibition space with dedicated areas for the NAG’s collection on the lower level, while the upper level will cater for a variety of travelling exhibits, including international shows.

It will also deliver a new café and retail shop, multi-purpose and educational program space, a secure international standard loading dock, and will extend the building’s footprint east along Darby Street and Queen Street.

“The expansion of the gallery, which our [Newcastle Art Gallery] Foundation, Society and the community have worked tirelessly towards, will offer the ability to share more of our collection, displaying works of art of local, national and international importance for visitors to view and enjoy,” Ms Morton said.

“This project is about more than just increasing the exhibition space.

“It’s about reimagining the NAG to redefine what we offer as a destination and launch a new era of cultural tourism that will consolidate the Hunter’s reputation as an active and vibrant centre for the arts in NSW.”

Newcastle Art Gallery Foundation chair Suzie Galwey, Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce, Newcastle Art Gallery director Lauretta Morton OAM, NSW Deputy Premier Paul Toole and Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes.

To mark the occasion, the Newcastle Art Gallery will stage a special Sunday evening viewing on 30 January to the general public before closing its doors.

The centre is also offering extended opening hours from 10am and until 8pm, with music, food and activations from noon.

A pop-up bar on-site will be available from 3pm.

The Newcastle Art Gallery is scheduled to reopen in two years’ time to allow its long-awaited $40 million expansion – which also includes $16.5 million from City of Newcastle and $10 million bequeathed by the late Val Ryan – to occur.

Council will now call for tenders for an experienced Fine Art Handler to help relocate the collection into secure, temperature-controlled storage to ensure the protection and preservation of the valuable works during the expansion project.

Moving the collection will be completed in parallel with external early works, including the relocation of telecommunication assets from the site and mine void remediation, which will ensure the gallery is vacant and ready for the main construction work to begin mid-year.

The project is expected to be completed by mid-2024. The collection will still be available online and be represented across digital screen sites throughout the City during the expansion works, while outreach programs, special activations and partnerships will be developed to allow the community to continue to engage with the gallery.

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