Work on the Sydney Modern Project by Architectus as part of the Art Gallery of NSW Expansion was following a two-stage invitational design competition representing the expansion of the Art Gallery of New South Wales, is now on track for completion next year.

Designed by Pritzker Architecture Prize-winning architects Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa of Japanese architecture firm SANAA and local firm Architectus, Sydney Modern Project will almost double the current building’s exhibition space to enable the gallery to showcase their outstanding art collection as well as attract major national and international exhibitions to Sydney, thereby, delivering a range of cultural, educational and economic benefits to the city.


The $344-million transformation project involves the construction of a new building to the north of the existing gallery, with the standalone building connected to the gallery through an outdoor public art garden, and all three spaces coming together to form an expanded art museum. SANAA’s design for the new building is in the form of a series of interlocking pavilions that step down towards the Sydney Harbour, aligning with the site’s natural topography.

The project aims to create a new museum experience not only by adding a new building but also revitalising the existing gallery – complete with a grand forecourt – and significant outdoor works, bringing together art, architecture and landscape in a spectacular fashion.

In addition to increasing the gallery’s total exhibition space from 9,000 to 16,000 square metres, Sydney Modern Project will also create dynamic galleries, dedicated spaces and facilities for learning and participation, and extensive outdoor spaces for everyone to enjoy. SANAA’s design of the new open and accessible home for art is sensitive to the beautiful parkland setting overlooking Sydney Harbour on Gadigal country. The seamless connections between indoor and outdoor spaces will deliver rich and diverse experiences for all visitors.

The revitalisation of the existing gallery will restore the original architectural features of the building, provide more space for art and scholarship, and enhance the visitor experience and sustainable operations.

The expansion works will also include adaptive reuse of two disused World War II naval oil tanks on the project site, with one of the tanks being repurposed into a unique art space.

The new building will be a prominent destination showcasing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art and culture in a 960-square-metre dedicated gallery space, according to the Art Gallery of NSW. The expansion is expected to bring up to 2 million visitors to the gallery each year including schools, families and communities.

The Art Gallery of NSW remains open during construction.

Images: SANAA © art gallery of New South Wales, 2021