Art Gallery of Western Australia Australia, Perth

Art Gallery of Western Australia

The Art Gallery of Western Australia (AWGA) is a public State art gallery that is part of the Perth Cultural Centre, in Perth, Western Australia. It is located near the Western Australian Museum and State Library of Western Australia and is supported and managed by the WA Government Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries. The current gallery main building opened in 1979 and will celebrate its 40th anniversary in 2019. It is linked to the old court house – The Centenary Galleries — which house the historical collection. 2020 is the 125th anniversary of the foundation of the institution.[1]

The Gallery is visited by approximately 400,000 people annually. It houses the State's art collection consisting of over 17,000 works of art including c3,000 Indigenous works.[2]. Under the directorship of Stefano Carboni, the Gallery introduced a series of popular blockbuster exhibitions from MoMA, the Museum of Modern Art in New York (to 2014). In celebration of local artists in Western Australia, the WA Focus series was introduced together with a new Craft Gallery.

In 2016 AGWA refreshed its brand inviting the public to ‘see things differently’ with each visit. New additions to the Gallery include a contemporary culture strand “Culture Juice” the first edition of which was the celebration of the design of sneakers “Sneakerheads” (2017) followed by an exhibition about Perth born actor Heath Ledger; the world’s first art gallery engagement robot Aggie which tours children around the Gallery; the introduction of virtual reality and a sound gallery “Rise”; and a refreshed public program of interpretation and events “the Imagination Program” supported by a team of voluntary “Guru Guides”; a multi platform exploration of portraits including the Black Swan Prize for Portraiture; and increased TV output with a strand called “AGWA TV”.

In 2016/7 the Gallery embraced two performing art collaborations with leading young companies Proximity Theatre Festival (2016) and Co3 Dance Company, the latter creating a work inspired by the AGWA Collection over a two-year residency called “Reason for Being”.

In 2017 key new acquisitions have been used to enhance the Gallery experience. Two works by Antony Gormly (Big Yield and Big Pluck2) were presented and are positioned at the entrance to the Gallery. The works were donated by John Rodgers in memory of his father a former board member of the Gallery. Another work was bespoke to the site: Big Sky with Rainbow by Julianne Swartz funnels light from the roof down a fibre optic cable winding down the building concourse concluding in two ‘ocular events’ or ‘rainbows’ in the building.

In 2017 AGWA announced plans to redevelop its sizable rooftop as focus for sculpture, events, restaurants, film etc in a project called AGWA Elevate” targeted for opening before the Gallery’s anniversary in 2020. The WA State government has pledged $10m towards this project.

‘Six Seasons” a high profile project to increase the focus on AGWA’s Indigenous collection was launched in 2017, and a new dedicated permanent Indigenous gallery was inaugurated alongside “Plain Speak” a special exhibit for the Perth International Arts Festival.

The presentation of the AGWA Collection will undergo a change in late 2017 to include more acquisitions and to improve public enjoyment and navigation of the chronology and the profile of the distinctive West Australian art collection.

A refreshed policy statement “Essence of AGWA” (2015) and Acquisitions Policy (2017) guide the development of the gallery’s strategy.