Arts Minister marks milestone as Gallery expansion lays the foundation for cultural tourism boom

23 Jan 2024

NSW Arts Minister John Graham officially unveiled the foundation stone for the expansion of Newcastle Art Gallery today as work on City of Newcastle's landmark infrastructure project continues.

The moment marks a significant milestone in the Gallery's expansion, which hit new heights last month with the installation of a 33 metre high tower crane to facilitate the next stage of construction.

Minister Graham joined Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes, Federal Member for Newcastle Sharon Claydon and Newcastle Art Gallery Foundation Chair Suzie Galwey for the official ceremony, unveiling the bluestone paver commemorating the major funding partners involved.

Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said it was fitting to etch the name of the NSW Minister for the Arts and Tourism into a site that will become a regionally significant cultural destination.

"By more than doubling the size of Newcastle Art Gallery and delivering a suite of modern facilities of international standing, this project will offer a home to one of Australia's most significant public collections of art," Cr Nelmes said.

Mr Graham, who is also the NSW Minister for Jobs, said it was pleasing to see the positive economic impact this project would deliver for the community, now and into the future.

"Major infrastructure projects provide a valuable economic boost to local communities, with the expansion of Newcastle Art Gallery creating 170 jobs, including 152 in construction and 18 ongoing once it is complete," he said.

"This project is a fantastic example of what can be achieved when all levels of government and the local community work together to achieve a common goal, which will deliver positive benefits for the wider region for generations to come."

Federal Member for Newcastle Sharon Claydon welcomed the progress of the expansion project.

“Like all Novocastrians, I am delighted to see progress being made on this important project for our region," Ms Claydon said.

"Newcastle Art Gallery has been at the centre of our city’s rich cultural history for over 45 years and this expansion project will enhance Newcastle's reputation as a cultural tourism destination, boost the economy and create jobs for locals.”

Newcastle Art Gallery Foundation Chair Suzie Galwey said its members and donors were thrilled to mark another milestone on a project they have supported for so long.

“The Foundation thanks its members and donors for their generosity and unwavering support for this project over many years. We believe today’s milestone will inspire additional excitement and community support as the Foundation works towards its ambitious $13 million philanthropic goal,” Ms Galwey said.

The expansion project includes an additional 1,600 square meters of exhibition space with dedicated areas for the Gallery's collection on the lower level, while the upper level will cater for a variety of travelling exhibitions, including international shows.

The project will 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 project is supported by $5 million from the Australian Government under the Regional Recovery Partnerships and $5 million from the New South Wales Government under the Regional Recovery Package, as well as $12 million from the Newcastle Art Gallery Foundation made possible through the Valerie and John Ryan bequest, Margaret Olley Trust, and community fundraising over many years. A further $1 million is currently being sought through the Foundation's public fundraising campaign.