The Shepparton Art Museum, designed by Denton Corker Marshall, will open to the public on November 20, after nearly four years of design and construction processes.
The practice, after winning the design competition in 2017, opted to build skywards due to a floodway that runs across the site. Built on the lands of the local Yorta Yorta people, the five-level museum stands head and shoulders above the regional Victorian town. Denton Corker Marshall worked in partnership with Greater Shepparton City Council on the museum, with landscape architects Urban Initiatives and signage and wayfinding consultant Studio Ongarato also involved in the build.
John Denton, Denton Corker Marshall’s Founding Director, says the building is well positioned between the Victoria Park Lake and the local township.
“The Shepparton Art Museum was a great competition to win as it represents such an important cultural contribution to a regional city like Shepparton,” he says.
“Sitting between the lake and the main road into town from Melbourne it presents a strikingly bold signal – a new contemporary building added to the fabric of the city.”
The new gallery replaces its predecessor found on Welsford Street. It will comprise more than 4,000 artworks that will be housed in four separate gallery spaces. The gallery also features a kids' space and workshop space, as well as a visitor information centre, an outdoor amphitheatre, cafe, an event space and terrace able to host 150 people, and the Kaiela Arts Aboriginal community arts centre.
Channelling the classic Australian veranda, four perforated L-shaped plates are suspended in the landscape across each of the building’s facades. The plate that faces the lake is made of rustic Corten steel, with the other three formed or powder coated aluminium.
“From a distance, the plates give virtually no indication of interior life and waits to be discovered and explored,” Denton Corker Marshall says in a statement.
“At their base, they float seemingly unsupported over an open, visibly accessible and highly activated ground plane. Each plate is simultaneously an object in its own right and an integral part of the whole. The plates group together, at different heights and contrasting materiality, to form a cube composition at a scale comparable to the surrounding red river gums. Each facade plate becomes a canvas, layered into the treed landscape of dappled light and shade with the ability to transform as a base for temporary installations or projection imagery.”
The building connects to the lake and the surrounding parklands with ‘Art Hill’, a raised grass area. The hill is home to building services and back-of-house areas.
An open circulation galleria acts as the beating heart of the museum, and provides a number of walkways towards a number of interconnected multi-level spaces, namely the Lin Onus Gallery, People’s Gallery, Williamson Community Space, SAM Kids Space and the Bill Kelly Peace Room.
“The building is about hope and aspiration, with a range of welcoming spaces and places designed to invite all members of the public to meet, enjoy, and call their own through arts and culture,” says Rebecca Coates, CEO of Shepparton Art Museum.
“There’s a play of theatre, performance and comfortable reflection with natural light and views to the landscape connecting people to context and landscape.”
Funded by local, state and federal governments, the museum also received philanthropic and community donations in order to make the project become a reality.
To find out more about the museum, visit sheppartonartmuseum.com.au.