New NGV Contemporary will be Australia’s largest contemporary art gallery


Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews and Minister for Creative Industries Martin Foley met at the Arts Centre Melbourne last weekend to announce plans for a major redevelopment of Melbourne’s Southbank arts precinct.

At the centre of the redevelopment will be NGV Contemporary, a new standalone gallery devoted to art and design built on the site of the Carlton & United Breweries Building on Southbank Boulevard.

For Premier Daniel Andrews, the redevelopment is a “game changer that will cement Melbourne’s place as the cultural capital of Australia.”

When completed, NGV Contemporary will be positioned behind the Arts Centre Melbourne and will be Australia’s largest contemporary art gallery.

The proposed redevelopment has already secured the first stage of funding with $208 million from the Victorian Government spread over two years. It is hoped that raising further funding will be facilitated by the NGV, the Arts Centre Melbourne and philanthropic means.

In addition to NGV Contemporary, plans also allow for refurbishment of existing theatres at the Arts Centre Melbourne and include a gallery dedicated to the Australian Performing Arts Collection, an expanded Australian Music Vault and a permanent home for Orchestra Victoria. A new centre for smaller, independent arts organisations is also on the cards.

Overhauling the entire area of 1 City Road, the redevelopment will bring enhanced pedestrian access between Southbank and St Kilda Road, new bike tracks and an elevated public park.

In keeping with Melbourne city’s plan to increase the number of green spaces in the urban environment, traffic lanes in the area will be reduced and Dodds Street near the Victorian College of the Arts will be transformed into a public space with environmentally friendly gardens and outdoor performance venues. 

Earlier this week, experimental art group Testing Grounds revealed that they will be relocating from their current position at 1 City Road as a result of the redevelopment. While their move was expected, the group have been using the area as a temporary space for the development of art, performance and design. In a statement they said the new development is timely. “Testing Grounds has demonstrated the need and appetite for outdoor performance and creative development space among Victoria’s independent arts sector and we are very happy to see that embedded in the plan for the future of the precinct.” Testing Grounds will remain at their current site at 1 City Road until further notice.

With improved pedestrian access, it is hoped that the redevelopment will provide easy access throughout a creative neighbourhood that encompasses the Malthouse Theatre and the Melbourne Recital Centre. Citing the central positioning of the redevelopment in Southbank, Minister for Creative Industries Martin Foley stated, “The revitalised arts precinct will better connect our existing facilities, create new jobs, opportunities and spaces for our creative community, and offer free, accessible cultural experiences for all Victorians.”

News Words by Briony Downes