Funding boost for Newcastle Museum and Art Gallery

11 Dec 2023

Local stories and ambitious exhibitions will continue to take centre stage at two of Newcastle's key cultural institutions thanks to an extended multiyear funding allocation from the NSW Government.

Newcastle Museum and Newcastle Art Gallery's existing three-year agreements with Create NSW have both been extended for an additional 12 months, bringing the combined total investment in the facilities to almost $850,000 over four years.

Create NSW has also recognised the leading industry knowledge and expertise of City of Newcastle's Director Museum Archive Libraries and Learning, Julie Baird, appointing her as Chair of the Museums and History Artform Advisory Board.

Ms Baird is the first Director of a regional museum appointed to the highly respected role and will follow on from the tenure of Australian Museum Director Dr Kim McKay AO.

She has also recently been reappointed as Vice President of the National Council for the Australian Museums and Galleries Association Incorporated (AMaGA).

Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes congratulated Ms Baird on her appointment and welcomed the funding from the NSW Government, which reflected the quality of exhibitions, collections and programming produced by both the Museum and Art Gallery.

“Newcastle Museum and Newcastle Art Gallery are vibrant, award-winning cultural attractions, which play an important role in interpreting and preserving our city’s fascinating history and providing a time capsule of Australian art dating back to the earliest days of Newcastle,” Cr Nelmes said.

“Their respective collections and exhibitions also add to the rich diversity of experiences that help attract visitors to our city.

"Julie’s appointment reflects her expertise, innovative leadership and years of dedication to the Australian galleries, libraries, archives, and museums sector. It acknowledges the importance of Local Government funded museums in the cultural landscape.”

Ms Baird said the Create NSW funding had allowed Newcastle Museum to expand its program of self-curated exhibitions to tell more local stories.

“Newcastle Museum's vast collection allows visitors to gain a sense of Newcastle’s unique identity by exploring the city’s past, present and future, while our exciting annual program of self-curated and touring exhibitions are on the cutting edge of contemporary museum practice,” Ms Baird said.

"This funding has supported our ongoing commitment to serving the city with diverse and inclusive programs and award-winning exhibitions that tell the story of Newcastle.

"This has included everything from the award-winning 1x4, which we have now toured to seven other museums and galleries across three states, to the community-led insight into Newcastle's skateboarding culture, Shralp, and celebrating the talent of Newcastle's diverse Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander creatives through FIRST.

"I was also blown away by my appointment - to have a regional museum Director as the head of the Advisory Board acknowledges the professionalism and skills within our regional areas and recognises that a significant portion of the cultural innovation and leadership in our industry is coming from centres outside of Sydney."

Newcastle Art Gallery Director Lauretta Morton OAM said the additional funding would continue to support the Gallery's ambitious programming and future plans for the reimagined Art Gallery’s reopening.

"Having been a member of the Create NSW Visual Arts Advisory Board over the past four years, I have seen first-hand the incredible quality on offer across the state’s visual arts institutions, so I am absolutely delighted and extremely grateful that Newcastle Art Gallery has continued to be supported given the record number of funding recipients in the Visual Arts funding category," Ms Morton said.

"Newcastle Art Gallery is held in high regard across the Australian arts community, home to a nationally significant collection worth more than $126 million and with an award-winning artistic program drawing local, national and international audiences to our city.

"This esteem will grow further as we progress with our long-awaited Art Gallery expansion project, which will significantly increase the Gallery's capacity to present even more exhibitions and programming that showcase our incredible collection while supporting contemporary practice and artists’ groundbreaking ideas that engage and broaden our audience."