The design for a $344 million 6-star Green Star rated extension to the Art Gallery of NSW (AGNSW) has been approved.

Not only is the multi-million-dollar Sydney Modern Project the largest public-private partnership of its kind in Australia, but it also makes AGNSW the first public art museum in Australia to achieve such a high standard of environmentally sustainable design.

Designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architects SANAA, the extension will be a stand-alone building located next to the existing gallery. It will almost double AGNSW’s exhibition space, and is expected to bring in an extra two million visitors per year.

The two gallery buildings will be linked by a new public art garden that will complement the nearby Royal Botanic Garden through landscaping and outdoor artwork.

Highlights of the new building include:

  • A new prominent destination for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art
  • A large gallery for major exhibitions
  • An underground contemporary art space repurposed from a decommissioned WWII oil tank
  • Spaces for family, learning and educational programming to double student and teacher visits to 200,000 annually
  • Sustainability initiatives such as rainwater harvesting, extensive solar panels and a seawater heat exchange system for air-conditioning

“To be the first art museum in Australia to be awarded a 6-star Green Star design rating is a testament to the high-quality design of the Gallery’s expansion and our commitment to environmental sustainability,” says AGNSW director Dr. Michael Brand.

“This is helping to set a new standard for what art museums can achieve globally and is a wonderful outcome for the Gallery’s Sydney Modern Project.”

The widespread support for the Gallery’s vision symbolises the importance of the arts to the community, according to AGNSW president of the Board of Trustees, David Gonski AC.

“This new public asset will deliver enormous cultural and economic benefits to Sydney, NSW and Australia for generations to come,” says Gonski.