‘A Game Changer’: Melbourne To Get Largest Contemporary Art Gallery In Australia

"We won't retain our title as the nation's cultural capital unless we invest in the infrastructure"

What you need to know
  • Melbourne is set to be the home of Australia's 'biggest and best' contemporary art gallery
  • Premier Daniel Andrews announced plans for a transformation of the arts precinct in Southbank
  • The state government has pledged $208 million towards the project, but will later rely on philanthropic funding

Victoria is looking to secure its rank as Australia's “cultural capital” with plans to build the nation’s largest contemporary arts gallery.

Premier Daniel Andrews announced on Sunday the gallery would be built at the Carlton and United Breweries site, as part of a transformation of the arts precinct in Southbank.

"This is all about re-magining this whole arts precinct, opening up Southbank … and setting us up to be not only the sports capital of our nation, but the cultural capital."

Artist rendition's of the proposed NGV Contemporary and 'transformation' of the Southbank arts precinct. Source: state governemnt

The state government has allocated $208 million to the project, set to deliver “new public space, better theatres, thousands of local jobs and attract millions of visitors”, with $105 million spent on purchasing the Carlton and United Breweries (CUB) site behind the Arts Centre on St Kilda Road.

The new gallery, which will be called "NGV Contemporary", would be the centre of the redevelopment.

“This is a very, very exciting project,” the premier said.

‘And it’s not a question of whether it will happen -- this is going to happen and the first stage is fully funded.”

He said he was certain the city’s “philanthropic community” would support the project, with further funding to be announced at a later date.

Artist rendition's of the proposed 'transformation' of the Southbank arts precinct. Source; state government

“We are more than hopeful, in fact we’re certain that Melbourne’s wonderful philanthropic community, those that have supported art and culture ... will rise to the challenge and be a partner in this,” he said.

The redevelopment will see upgrades to the Arts Centre Melbourne, an expanded Australian Music Vault and a new centre for small to medium arts organisations.

Up to 18,000 square metres of new and renewed public space would see an expanded pedestrian corridor and more green space along Southbank Boulevard.

The government said it expects to create 10,000 jobs during construction and 260 ongoing jobs. The project would also attract an extra three million visitors each year.  

In a statement, it said the Arts Centre and NGV currently attract more than six million visitors each year.

“This means an enormous amount for Victoria,” NGV director Tony Ellwood said.

The state opposition said the government’s election-year announcement had little substance. 

“The philanthropy area in Melbourne is strong; we have some amazing supporters for the arts here in Victoria," shadow arts and cultural spokeswoman Heidi Victoria said.

“But you can’t keep going out as a state government, borrowing things on the credit card or hoping someone else is going to pay for the purchases.

“It’s just not fair to say ‘we’ll do this, but we’ll get someone else to bankroll it'.”