AGNSW buildings bestowed with Aboriginal language names

The Art Gallery of New South Wales has christened their two buildings.

Words: Erin Irwin

Now comprised of two buildings, one from the 19th century and one designed by architectural firm SANAA as part of the Sydney Modern Project, the Art Gallery of New South Wales (AGNSW) has announced that each building will have an Aboriginal language name. The names were chosen in collaboration with several key Aboriginal stakeholders and communities, including the Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council, alongside input from the gallery’s Board of Trustees, Indigenous Advisory Group and First Nations staff members.

The gallery’s newest addition has been bestowed with the name Naala Badu, meaning ‘seeing waters’ in the Sydney language. This choice was informed by its location, which looks towards Sydney Harbour and unceded Gadigal land. The name will be displayed above the front entrance, which leads straight into the Yiribana Gallery, a space specifically designed to give a platform to Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander artists.

The original sandstone building has also received a new Sydney language name: Naala Nura, which means ‘seeing Country’. This acknowledges the source of the sandstone that makes up the building’s façade as from local Country.

“We are greatly honoured that the Art Gallery’s two buildings on this significant site in Sydney will bear the Aboriginal names Naala Badu and Naala Nura”, says the gallery’s Director Michael Brand, “they evoke a powerful sense of place – this place of extraordinary physical beauty with its complex, contested histories. We intend to carry these names with the deepest respect”.

This article was posted 21 May 2024.

Image:  Exterior view of the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Naala Badu (L) and Naala Nura (R). Photo: Iwan Baan. Courtesy: Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney.

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