A look at our new and possibly improved NGA
The National Gallery is one of those buildings people like to beat up on.
Since its open in 1967the building has been subject to hurtful and unfair sledges such as “pile of concrete poo” and “High Court off-cuts”.
Besides the fact the Colin Madigan building is one of the world’s best examples of brutalist architecture, it is also safely Australia’s coolest public building. In a city dotted with real piles of bureaucratic concrete the NGA is an oasis of unique design.
I liked the weird side entrance and the sometimes confusing internal layout of the galleries. I liked the fact it didn’t present itself to you in an obvious fashion, that you were forced to think differently the minute you arrived (like how the hell do you get in?).
Obviously I’m in the minority given the amount of complaints about the building, especially its entrance, prompted a large scale renovation of the front of the building.
The NGA tonight opens its new entrance and aboriginal art galleries. I’ve got to say I’m with Madigan in arguing that the front his building should have left the hell alone.
Upon entering the new NGA you are greeted with two escalators leading you up to the new galleries. To your right is a huge brand new gift shop. My immediate sensation is that it feels like a shopping mall. This isn’t entirely accidental either, because the new design, as opposed to the original, is supposed to allow visitors to feel they are in easily negotiable and familiar environment.
That precious complaint aside the new indigenous galleries are really stunning and, unlike the older galleries, are flooded with natural light from above so you don’t feel like you’re looking at paintings in a basement. The NGA appears to have taken a leaf from the book of the new National Portrait Gallery next door.
The collection is the largest of Australian indigenous art in the world and the new galleries divide art into ethnographic groups rather than lumping it all in under a generic aboriginal art title. It also displays spectacular collections of significant aboriginal art movements like Pupunya Tula and the Hermannsburg School.
Here’s a look at the new galleries thanks to News Limited photographer Ray Strange. The new galleries are open to the public from Friday October 1 at the National Gallery in Canberra.
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