After 18-Month Renovation MCA Sydney Re-Opens


Sydney’s Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA), the only Australian museum dedicated solely to contemporary art, will re-open Mar. 29, inaugurating a weeklong celebration.

The architect, Sydney-born Sam Marshall of Architect Marshall, oversaw the $56 million, 18-month makeover. His most visible addition to the imposing 1952 Art Deco Maritime Services Board Building, home to the MCA since 1990, is a new five-story structure with a striking geometric façade of interlocking brown, black and white blocks clad in glass reinforced concrete panels that alternate with the transparent planes of its windows.

The re-do adds more than 48,000 sq. ft.—a 50% addition—offering three new galleries and creating a rooftop sculpture terrace with panoramic views of Sydney Harbor, Harbor Bridge and the Opera House. “The renovation will also offer more resources devoted to interpreting the collection,” says MCA director Elizabeth Ann Macgregor. “For the first time, we have a whole floor dedicated to Australian art collected since the museum’s inception.” Macgregor shepherded the museum through its transformation, which was funded half publicly, half privately.

As has become common practice, the museum added a substantial education department, the National Centre for Creative Learning, endowing it with some 14,500 sq. ft., including studios, classrooms and multimedia rooms, and a lecture theater.

“Marking Time” [Mar. 31–June 3], an exhibition featuring 11 international artists, will open in a new top-floor gallery, and in public spaces outside of the museum. Curated by MCA senior curator Rachel Kent, the show features works by Tatsuo Miyajima, Jim Campbell, Edgar Arceneaux, John Gerrard, Rivane Neuenschwander. Indigenous Australian artist Gulumbu Yunupingu inscribes celestial phenomena on bark panels and hollowed memorial poles.

In a solo presentation, Christian Marclay’s The Clock will be shown for the first time in the southern hemisphere.

The MCA’s primary mission is to showcase native talent. Reflecting contemporary art trends in Australia over the last 20 years, MCA curator Glenn Barkley will present “Volume One: MCA Collection,” featuring 150 Australian artists across disciplines including film, video, installation and performance, as well as traditional Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art.

One of the four commissioned works is by Brook Andrew, an Aboriginal-Scottish artist who has installed a permanent work on the museum’s façade that refers to the site’s colonial history. A site-specific commission for the sculpture terrace went to Egypt-born, Sydney-based Hany Armanious, who represented Australia at the 2011 Venice Biennale. He’s created Fountain, which will be on view for the next year.