The Queensland Art Gallery (QAG) celebrates its 30th anniversary at our South Bank site on June 21 this year. Over the coming weeks, we will look back at the Gallery’s history, delve into our archives and share some of our stories.
The current QAG building (the first stage of the Queensland Cultural Centre) was officially opened in 1982 at a cost of $28 million and was designed by renowned Queensland architect Robin Gibson. The building was awarded the Sir Zelman Cowen Award for Architecture in 1982.
The move to QAG’s first permanent home took place in three stages, and all sections occupied the building at South Bank, South Brisbane by 8 March. The transfer of the Collection was completed by 13 May.
On 21 June, the new building was officially opened. The official opening ceremony was attended by over 900 guests and an estimated 8 000 visitors attended the gala public opening celebrations that evening, as we opened to the public in our first permanent home after some eighty-seven years.
The public response to the opening was overwhelming, with approximately 50 000 visitors in its first 10 days. In its first opening year, QAG had over 850 000 visitors and has attracted more than 13 million visitors since it opened.
For the opening, works from the Gallery’s Collection were on display, as well as five major international exhibitions drawn from important art museums in the United States, Japan and Britain, these were Japan – Masterpieces from the Idemitsu Museum of Arts, Tokyo; Kandinsky on loan from the Guggenheim Museum, New York; Town, Country, Shore and Sea: British Drawings and Watercolours from Van Dyck to Nash from the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge; Renaissance Bronzes from the Victoria and Albert Museum, London and Renaissance Bronzes and Related Drawings from the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford; and The World of Edward Hopper from the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.
People. Boilermakers, housewives, bus drivers, dressmakers, clerks, students, typists, children, teachers. People are the pulse, the breath of the Art Gallery.
Their presence, their interest, their movement make the building live.
The Art Gallery is not designed merely as a vast repository of paintings and sculptures. Every metre within its halls projects a quality of space, of light.
The atmosphere of the city flows into it. Even the environs provide a fascinating art study — the planes and angles of the city as seen through the windows on the river side — the arcs and sweeps of the hills and the Merivale Bridge as seen through the western windows.
This is the feeling of the Art Gallery. It is an extension of the life of the city and certainly not a remote, stiffly compartmented art storage.
People give it life and soul. Their presence, their movement provide a kinetic effect.
This is an Art Gallery with an appeal to every Queenslander. It offers a rich collection of art displayed in exceptionally fine surroundings. It heralds a stimulating era in Queensland culture.
Most importantly, it belongs to the people in substance and in lore.
The Art Gallery is yours. Enjoy it.