Bridge to the future: Bundanon to open new world-class facilities

Key NSW cultural institution set to unveil innovative Art Museum and Bridge for Creative Learning.

Words: Charlotte Middleton

Bundanon will open the doors publicly to its new Art Museum and Bridge for Creative Learning from Saturday 29 January, with an official ceremony and festival of events to follow on Saturday 5 March, including live music and performance.

In its expanded program, the arts and cultural institution will deliver three exhibition seasons annually, with a greater range of on-site events including tailored learning and artistic residency programs.

Embedded within the landscape, the new 500m2 Bundanon Art Museum is designed by Kerstin Thompson Architects (KTA) in collaboration with landscape architects Wraight + Associates with Craig Burton, and sustainable design engineers Atelier 10.

Kerstin Thompson, director of Kerstin Thompson Architects explained: “The design is driven by Bundanon’s main imperative, as established by the Boyd family, to foster an appreciation for and understanding of landscape and art. We have placed the site’s ecology at the centre of the design.”

The Art Museum will present a year-round program of exhibitions of modern, contemporary, and First Nations art, as well as new commissions, and includes a state-of-the-art storage facility that will house and protect Bundanon’s extensive collection worth $46.5 million.

Minister for the Arts Ben Franklin said the NSW Government was proud to be involved in the funding of the Art Museum, commenting, “the funding will enable the museum to maintain and protect the treasured Boyd collection for the enjoyment and education of future generations.”

The bridge, meanwhile, is a 160-metre long by 9-metre-wide structure that spans the existing gully in the sloping hillside, housing a world-class creative learning centre, with break-out spaces. It offers accommodation for up to 64 guests, and café and dining facilities offering sweeping views over the Shoalhaven River. The Art Museum and bridge share an expansive public plaza near the existing nineteenth-century buildings. Both public groups and education audiences will be able to stay onsite for an immersive Bundanon experience.

These new additions to Bundanon incorporate radical solutions to a changing climate, being defensible against fire and flood and with a net-zero energy target. The build has been supported by a $22.5 million investment from the Federal Government, $10.3 million from the NSW Government, and philanthropic support. The $34 million project will drive visitation and cultural tourism to the Shoalhaven region.  The Federal Government, in the last budget, announced additional uplift funding of $6 million over two years.

Minister for Communications, Urban Infrastructure, Cities and the Arts, Paul Fletcher said Bundanon reflects the Morrison Government’s strong commitment towards a thriving and diverse creative and cultural sector in Australia.

“This significant new architectural expansion will position Bundanon as a national tourist hub, expanding arts access in regional Australia, and increasing employment and economic growth in the Shoalhaven,” said Fletcher.

Bundanon Chief Executive Officer Rachel Kent added: “This expansion will widen public access, deepen engagement in creativity and the landscape, and position Bundanon both nationally and internationally. I look forward to this new chapter in Bundanon’s history – building on its past achievements and opening its doors to new audiences and generations, going forwards.”

The Art Museum opens on 29 January with the inaugural exhibition From impulse to action, which draws on the creative energy of experimentation and runs until 12 June 2022, with new commissions by Australian contemporary artists Dean Cross, Rochelle Haley, Tina Havelock Stevens, Kate Jones, Jo Lloyd, Emily Parsons-Lord, Izabela Pluta, Uncle Steven Russell & Aunty Phyllis Stewart, Skye Saxon, Vivian Cooper Smith, Shan Turner-Carroll, and Kaitlen Wellington.

Entry to Bundanon will be free on the opening weekend, with timed entry to maintain social distancing. Tickets can be booked online from Thursday 20 January. For more information visit bundanon.com.au.

This article was originally published 18 January 2021.

Image: The Bridge, Bundanon. Photo: Zan Wimberley

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