The building
New Indigenous galleries & entrance

Stage 1 was officially opened on Thursday 30 September 2010 by Her Excellency Ms Quentin Bryce AC, the Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia. The development features a new entrance and foyer, Gallery shop, a new function and event space, street cafe (opening soon) and 11 new Indigenous art galleries showcasing works from the world's largest collection of Australian Indigenous art.

Stage 1 provides a new, more legible and accessible ground-floor entrance to the south of the building. The new entrance area has escalators to and from the public spaces on the main level and a lift provides unassisted access to and from the underground visitor car park.

The foyer area includes new visitor cloaking and reception facilities and a new Gallery Shop. Adjacent to the Shop is the new function space, Gandel Hall, for a variety of public programs, openings and special events. It opens onto the new Australian Garden. The total space of the new building is 9,727m². The new display space is 2424m² and will provide approximately 40% additional display space.

Visitor facilities

  • improved arrival and entry facilities
  • enhanced collection display galleries, particularly for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art and visitor amenities
  • new Gallery shop
  • new street cafe
  • compliancy with contemporary building codes and legislative requirements
  • Gandel Hall, named after Pauline Gandel and John Gandel AO, is a dedicated function space seating up to 350 guests for dinner or up to 1,000 for stand-up functions. Opening out onto the Australian Garden, Gandel Hall will be used as a venue for openings and special events, as well as public programs, school and education activities.


At the new ground-level entrance there is a dedicated gallery for The Aboriginal Memorial 1988, one of the most important works of art in the national collection. Appropriately, this sculptural installation is the first work of art visitors will see as they enter the Gallery.

Above the new function space, Gandel Hall, are 11 new galleries dedicated to the display of Indigenous Australian art which connects with the existing galleries on the main level. Each of these galleries is designed to display specific types of Indigenous art, with areas for small, early dot paintings, large galleries for larger dot paintings, spaces for bark paintings, and for watercolours, textiles, prints, ceramics and sculptures.

The new galleries cover key art regions in Australia, including the Torres Strait Islands, from remote, regional and urban areas, and will display over 600 works. The National Gallery's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art collection comprises over 7,500 works of art. They reflect the richness and diversity of artistic practice across the country.

The main galleries are lit by natural light, apart from those areas intended for the display of light-sensitive works such as textiles, baskets and works on paper, including watercolours. These are the first galleries in Australia designed specifically for displaying different aspects of Indigenous Australian art. Sidney Nolan’s 1946-47 Ned Kelly series are on display on Level 1 in a specially constructed oval gallery.

Technical and support areas

Other main elements of Stage 1 include:
  • the fit-out of the Undercroft to the Temporary Exhibitions Galleries for dedicated art packing, framing, mountcutting, storage, and administrative facilities, including dedicated quarantine inspection and treatment spaces;
  • new, separated loading docks and circulation routes for works of art and general goods; and
  • new landscape works and car park designed to harvest surface water for reuse in the irrigation and water elements.

Australian materials

Materials used in the new building have been sourced from around Australia and include dark grey South Australian Mintaro slate for the flooring of the Aboriginal Memorial Gallery and Foyer, Queensland red ironbark and South Australian Sawn Austral black granite for the flooring of the Gandel Hall, Cairns Chillagoe green marble for the walls of the toilets and parents room, and Cairns Chillagoe white marble for the Foyer wall.

image: National Gallery of Australia
View towards new main entrance
Photograph: John Gollings 2010 National Gallery of Australia
View towards new main entrance
Photograph: John Gollings 2010

Gallery's vision

The Gallery is committed to presenting the national collection of art, together with exhibitions, education and public programs and to providing facilities which meet visitors' expectations, particularly for those visitors with special needs, such as people with disabilities. The Gallery also acknowledges its role as custodian of a significant, heritage-listed public building and sculpture garden. To maintain this commitment, the Gallery building must be extended and enhanced to better serve its visitors by removing barriers to access and to meet the challenges of a growing collection of works of art.

New Australian Garden and James Turrell Skyspace sculpture

The external Skyspace installation sculpture Within without , designed by US artist James Turrell, is located in the new Australian Garden to the south east of the new entrance at ground level.

Original architect

The Gallery acknowledges and thanks Mr Colin Madigan AO, the principal design architect for the original building.


  • On 13 December 2006 the Australian Government announces it will provide funding to enhance and extend the National Gallery of Australia’s building.
  • On 13 July 2007 Manteena is formally appointed as the project’s Construction Manager.
  • Stage 1 officially opened on Thursday 30 September by Her Excellency Ms Quentin Bryce AC, the Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia.
  • On 1 October 2010 Stage 1 is opened to the public.
  • Designed by Andrew Andersons AM of PTW Architects.