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Newcastle Art Gallery collection in the money

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Newcastle boasts the most valuable art collection of any gallery in Australia, outside a capital city.

It comes after the local anthology was independently valued at $126 million, an increase of $11 million since key works were last reviewed. 

The Cooks Hill facility is currently closed in readiness for its $40 million expansion.

However, the collection was relocated in February to secure storage.

As part of the process, the works were revalued, with Joseph Lycett’s Inner view of Newcastle and Russell Drysdale’s The crow trap recording the most significant rises, with more than $1 million added to each of their valuations.

Five other iconic paintings including William Dobell’s renowned Portrait of a Strapper amplified by in excess of $500,000 apiece.

Significant female artists in the collection were also among works whose values have risen substantially, with two of Cressida Campbell’s more than doubling in value.

Notable increases were recorded by Eugene von Guérard, Hilda Rix Nicholas, Brett Whiteley, Grace Cossington Smith and Arthur Streeton, too.

Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said the long-awaited expansion of Newcastle Art Gallery would allow the community to view and appreciate even more of these iconic artworks. 

“City of Newcastle is proud to be the custodian of one of Australia’s most significant public collections of art,” she explained.

“But, only 1% of Newcastle Art Gallery’s works were able to be displayed in any year due to a lack of space in the existing building.

“The expansion project includes an additional 1,600 square meters of exhibition space with dedicated areas on the lower level for our collection, offering the ability to share more of these wonderful works with the community. 

“By more than doubling the size of the gallery and delivering a suite of modern facilities, this project will deliver an expanded and upgraded premises of international standing that will offer a valuable cultural tourism opportunity for Newcastle and the Hunter.”

Newcastle Art Gallery Director Lauretta Morton OAM said the collection was significant and diverse, providing a time capsule of Australian art dating back more than 200 years. 

“Thanks to the generosity of Dr Roland Pope, whose initial bequest in 1945 formed the genesis of the collection, and subsequent donations from major benefactors, artists, the Newcastle Art Gallery Foundation, Newcastle Art Gallery Society and our community we are honoured to be the custodian of the city’s collection with works of art of local, national and international importance,” she stated.

“We are also proud to share this incredible collection with the rest of Australia through a touring loans program to regional, state and national institutions.

“During the past four years alone, many of our works of art have travelled to galleries around the country and have been viewed by approximately one million people, with 39 works of art currently involved in 11 exhibitions across Australia.”

The collection is also available to view online via the Newcastle Art Gallery website, while key works are represented in the Night Galleries project at sites throughout the city including Market Street Steps, Kuwumi Place and Pacific Park.

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