National Gallery of Victoria reaps reward from Daniel Andrews' $1.4bn cultural precinct splurge

Kelly Burke
·2 min read

The National Gallery of Victoria has secured funding from the Andrews government to go ahead with its proposal to build Australia’s largest gallery of contemporary art, design, fashion and architecture.

The funding, announced in Tuesday’s budget, is part of $1.4bn in 2020-21 to revamp Melbourne’s Southbank arts precinct, encompassing the existing NGV International, the Arts Centre Melbourne and a new 18,000 sq metre public garden.

Related: Victoria budget: treasurer announces $23.3bn deficit and record spending amid coronavirus recession

The premier, Daniel Andrews, said the Melbourne arts precinct transformation would be “the biggest cultural infrastructure project ever undertaken in Australia”.

Neither the state government nor the NGV would say on Wednesday what proportion of the billion-dollar funding would go specifically to NGV Contemporary, which will be built behind the existing NGV International on Southbank Boulevard.

Upon completion, the gallery will span more than 30,000 sq metres.

A design competition will be launched before the end of the year to determine the architectural team, limited to Australian applicants only.

The NGV director, Tony Ellwood, described the state government’s commitment to NGV Contemporary, which had been on the cards since 2018, as “extraordinary”.

“NGV Contemporary will form an intrinsic part of Melbourne’s creative and cultural identity, a universal civic space where visitors can gather, socialise, learn and interpret our world through a year-round presentation of exhibitions and programs that reflect contemporary life and culture,” he said in a statement on Wednesday.

“NGV Contemporary will be a dynamic cultural hub that all Victorians will be proud to call their own and present an unrivalled opportunity to showcase Australian and international art, design and architectural practice to the world.”

NGV Contemporary’s larger gallery spaces will afford more scope for the recurring NGV Triennial series, major ticketed blockbuster exhibitions and major solo exhibitions.