New $50 million Shepparton Art Museum opens to the public

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New $50 million Shepparton Art Museum opens to the public
Flow: Stories of River, Earth and Sky in the SAM Collection, installation view, 2021, Shepparton Art Museum. Photo © Christian Capurro.

VICTORIA.- Australia’s newest art museum, Shepparton Art Museum officially opened its doors to the public on Saturday 20 November 2021 with nine free exhibitions, four new artwork commissions and presenting more than 200 artists in a celebration of the area’s rich and diverse culture, people and landscape.

Designed by acclaimed Australian architecture firm Denton Corker Marshall and spanning five floors, the new $50 million art museum houses over 4,000 artworks, with over 200 artists represented and 160 Indigenous and First Nations artworks on display, including its nationally recognised ceramics collection and the nation’s most significant collection of South-East Australian Aboriginal art.

To mark the unveiling, the opening weekend includes a live streamed and in person exhibition opening of Lin Onus: The Land Within. On Sunday 21 November at 11.00am, a panel discussion entitled “Build It and They Will Come” will explore the story behind the new museum. Moderated by Melbourne School of Design’s Professor Alan Pert, the panel features John Denton, founder of Denton Corker Marshall, SAM Artistic Director & CEO Rebecca Coates and David Sequeira, artist and Director of Margaret Lawrence Gallery, University of Melbourne.

SAM Artistic Director & CEO Rebecca Coates said of the opening, “It has been a much anticipated moment and we are delighted to finally welcome visitors and our community to the new SAM. The free exhibitions, outstanding artists and art commissions, supported by programs that engage, inspire and inform, are all housed in a world-class new building which is changing the agenda for what Shepparton is known for.”

“SAM has been designed as a live building where every surface presents an opportunity to display and be surrounded by art and experience, whether you go to the cafe, drop into the shop or even drive past at night when the gallery is closed. We are proud to be putting Shepparton on the cultural map and to contribute to radically changing this unique part of regional Victoria,” Coates added.

Minister for Creative Industries Danny Pearson said, “This extraordinary new museum is a stunning addition to Victoria’s world-class network of regional galleries, an incredible creative asset for the region and must-visit destination for all art lovers. The Museum is already offering compelling art and programs for this summer and beyond, headlined by this amazing Lin Onus exhibition.”

The new museum opens with nine free exhibitions spanning sculpture, painting, video, photography, ceramics and installation including the first significant showing of works by Lin Onus, the acclaimed Yorta Yorta artist, on Country, Lin Onus: The Land Within. Also premiering is Flow: Stories of River, Earth and Sky, an exhibition showcasing over 60 artists from SAM’s collection including major new acquisitions shown for the first time, the nation’s largest holding of works by the extended Namatjira family and works from the Carrillo and Ziyin Gantner Collection of Australian Indigenous Art.

Unveiled for the first time are four new artwork commissions and artworks by emerging and established Australian artists including the new work Connection to Country – I Remember When...,2021 by acclaimed Yorta Yorta, Wamba Wamba, Mutti Mutti and Boonwurrung artist, Maree Clarke; a new participatory video installation by one of Australia’s foremost artists and choreographers Amrita Hepi and Determination by Congo-born artist Pierre Mukeba which is inspired by the African diaspora in Australia. New site-specific installations include the large-scale artwork on SAM’s inaugural Art Wall Looking out and across, up and down, the river sometimes becomes a cloud, 2021 by multi-disciplinary artist Louisa Bufardeci; Anne-Marie May’s luminous installation Everything Joyful is Mobile which is suspended from SAM’s Atrium and Central Void spaces and James Geurts’ installation Trajectories: Orbiting Bodies Meet which draws on the museum’s close geographical proximity to the landing site of the Murchison meteorite and is commissioned for display on SAM’s 4th Floor Terrace.

Also opening to the public is Everyday Australian Design: Functional Design from the Ian Wong Collection which celebrates everyday objects from Australian daily life and culture and many of Australia’s most significant and awarded designers; Brown Pot, an exhibition exploring the evolving story of Australian studio pottery from the 1950s to today and Fresh: GV Top Art & Design, 2021 featuring artworks and design presentations from talented year 11 and 12 VCE Art, Studio Arts and Visual Communication Design students studying across 14 schools in North Central and Hume regions of Victoria in 2020.

Designed to act as a community and arts and cultural hub for the Greater Shepparton region, the new SAM building houses the Shepparton Art Museum; Shepparton Visitors’ Information Centre; Kaiela Arts, Shepparton’s Aboriginal community arts centre; an outdoor amphitheatre and Art Hill; and cafe and 150-person event space and terrace, all within an 5,300m2 cubic building.

Internally, the transparent and accessible museum experience is centred around an open, circulation galleria with four different galleries, totalling 800m2, accommodated across four floors including two major AA rated exhibition spaces which can accommodate exhibitions and loans of international significance. The gallery spaces include The Lin Onus Gallery, People’s Gallery, Williamson Community Space, SAM Kids Space, the Bill Kelly Peace Room designed as a collection viewing space, and Showcases at the entrance to SAM and across each floor featuring new commissions and SAM’s nationally significant ceramics collection.

Situated in regional Victoria around two hours’ drive north from Melbourne, SAM is located on the lands of the Yorta Yorta peoples, on the shore of Victoria Park Lake, Shepparton. Situated in regional Victoria around two hours’ drive north from Melbourne, SAM is located on the lands of the Yorta Yorta peoples, on the shore of Victoria Park Lake, Shepparton. The new building was funded by Greater Shepparton City Council ($15.35 million); the Australian Government ($15 million); Victorian State Government ($12.5 million) and private philanthropic and community support through the SAM Foundation ($7.5 million).

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