Funded by the City of Greater Bendigo, the Victorian Government and the Bendigo Art Gallery Foundation, (comprising a significant 13% of total funding from philanthropic sources), the new exhibition spaces offer greater flexibility and scope for the gallery, which in recent years has delivered blockbuster exhibitions and record attendance figures.
Cr. Barry Lyons, Mayor, City of Greater Bendigo, said: “This is an important milestone in the history of Bendigo Art Gallery and the City of Greater Bendigo is proud to partner with the Victorian Government and the Bendigo Art Gallery Foundation on this occasion.”
“This significant expansion recognises the social, cultural and economic impact that the Gallery has had on the wider Bendigo Community over the past decade”.
The expansion means a doubling of temporary exhibition space for the Gallery, which is widely recognised as one of Australia’s most innovative and popular regional galleries, known for its ambitious international exhibition schedule and its growing collection of contemporary works.
Scheduled to be launched on Saturday 15 March with a program of free family-focused activities, special members events and an evening celebration, the new Gallery extension includes two major new galleries, two ‘link’ exhibition spaces, new back of house, loading dock and storage areas, and improvements to the gallery’s front-of-house and café areas.
Ms Karen Quinlan, Director, Bendigo Art Gallery, said: “This is an incredibly exciting time for us at the gallery as the greatly increased capacity and facilities mean we can better display our diverse permanent collection and continue to offer an even more dynamic exhibition program than recent years.”
For the first time in many years, Bendigo’s significant collection of around 5000 works including paintings, sculpture, works on paper, new media and decorative art, will now be cared for in-house, conserved in state-of-the-art collection storage facilities.
Upon opening, the new galleries will be furnished with recent acquisitions from the contemporary art collection featuring artists such as Benjamin Armstrong, Polixeni Papapetrou, Michael Cook, Bill Henson, Grant Stevens and Dorothy Napangardi, many of which will be exhibited for the first time.
Bendigo Art Gallery’s extensive new wing faces the city’s magnificent Rosalind Park. The existing post-modern red brick, black steel and extensive glazing has been continued across the new north-facing façade.
There is one element that particularly stands out, a juxtaposition of the rusted red appearance of Corten steel overlaid with an intricate series of metres-long ironbark beams, creating a dynamic presence within the green surrounds of the park, and introducing a sculptural element to the building itself.
The ironbark was sourced from a central Victorian company specialising in repurposing reclaimed timber; an acutely resonant choice, as early Bendigo had extensive ironbark forests until the gold rush of the 1850s, which resulted in the clearing of the readily available resource for fuel and building materials.
The launch of the new Bendigo Art Gallery extension will follow the March 2 opening of Genius and Ambition: The Royal Academy of Arts, London, an exhibition of works from London’s renowned Royal Academy of Arts collection.
For more information, visit: www.bendigoartgallery.com.au for details.
Image: courtesy of City of Greater Bendigo