Sebastian Smee of the New York Times reports that Sydney’s Art Gallery of New South Wales has received a local grant of about $184 million for an expansion. The addition, called the Sydney Modern, will be designed by the Japanese architectural firm SANAA. Another $75.4 million will need to be raised from the private sector to cover all of the expansion’s costs. Around $53 million has already been pledged.
The museum is popular—it brings in about one million people annually—but the building looks and feels a bit retrograde. In recent years, it has lost many visitors to Melbourne’s National Gallery of Victoria and smaller yet newly revamped museums in cities such as Canberra and Brisbane.
Though the government created an arts culture fund of $452 million, many want to see money going to smaller arts institutions in the outer regions. Conservatives within Sydney have criticized the upgrade, saying that it’s unnecessary, while a former prime minister, who also happens to be a strong supporter of the arts, has denounced the project. Private donors have been wary about backing the project as well. To make the expansion more tempting, however, the government announced a Regional Cultural Fund of $75.4 million. State officials are hoping that the Sydney Modern will vastly increase attendance and infuse the economy with an extra $1 billion over the next twenty-five years.