It’s a big job! MCA gets the money

Art Life , News May 04, 2010 4 Comments

When the Museum of Contemporary Art announced plans last year to expand the Circular Quay gallery with a massive brown-on-brown extension to be built on the adjoining site – currently the staff car park – you had to admire management’s optimism. With not much more than a clutch of blueprints and a virtual walk through the whole project had the tang of another highly feted “multifunction polis” that might never get off the ground.

The MCA’s new extension will include a patio, barbecue area, double garage and a lap pool. [Art not pictured].

The happy news is that the MCA now has put secured a joint funding deal that includes a huge private donation, plus state and federal cash that will turn the dream into a reality. At a press conference held on he grass outside the building on Tuesday afternoon, a clutch of semi-popular politicians including Tanya Plibersek, Peter Garret and that lady who’s the premier joined Elizabeth Ann Macgregor to announce the deal. Sayeth the MCA press release:

Sydney, Australia: The Premier of NSW Kristina Keneally, the Federal Minister for Infrastructure, the Hon Anthony Albanese MP, Federal Minister for Environment Protection, Heritage and the Arts, The Hon Peter Garrett AM, MP, and MCA Director Elizabeth Ann Macgregor today announced that construction on the redevelopment of the Museum of Contemporary Art will commence in June this year.

Director of the MCA Elizabeth Ann Macgregor said on behalf of the MCA Board that “we are thrilled and delighted that the Federal Government has agreed to partner the State Government, and that together they will commit $26 million towards the project budget of $53 million. The State Government has agreed to increase its support from the $10 million committed in 2008 and will now match the Federal Government’s $13 million contribution.”

The Premier and Ministers also announced that Simon Mordant, the Chairman of the MCA’s Foundation, and his family had made an extraordinary and unprecedented commitment to a contemporary art project with a donation of $15 million.

Elizabeth Ann Macgregor said: “This is an incredibly exciting moment and has only been made possible because of the support from the Federal and NSW Governments along with a truly visionary gift by Simon and Catriona Mordant. The importance of this contribution to our community, made possible by the enthusiasm and commitment of this unique funding partnership, is truly breath-taking.”

“We would also like to acknowledge the enormous support and contribution of $1m from the City of Sydney and the $7.45 million so far raised from other private donors.”

While the Mordants will no doubt get lifetime access to the executive washroom, they also get something that will etch the family name in Sydney’s cultural history – naming rights:

The extension to the north of the existing MCA building will be appropriately named the Mordant Wing in recognition of the philanthropic support of the Mordant family. The Mordant Wing will provide a Centre for Creative Learning of national significance, housing workshop spaces for schools and after-school youth programs. There will be new facilities for the Museum’s renowned Bella program for young people with special needs, a digital classroom, multi-media room, library and resource room and a lecture theatre/new media events space. In addition, the extension will house additional Gallery space.

The development will also provide revamped and extended gallery spaces and a new fully accessible entrance. It will also expand commercial spaces to provide more ongoing revenue and create a sustainable business model, which will assist the MCA in continuing to offer free entry. The redevelopment plans respond to audience demands as MCA attendances continue to break records, with more than half a million people viewing MCA exhibitions and an additional 100,000 people utilising the MCA venue spaces each year. Enabling construction will begin in June and the project is expected to be completed in early 2012.

The design, by innovative architect Sam Marshall in partnership with the NSW Government Architect, will complement the existing building and energise The Rocks precinct and Circular Quay.

Andrew Frost


  1. Sarah Beeny

    Underfloor heating and a lap pool are all very well, but if they configured the space to fit in two extra bedrooms they would appeal to a broader market and achieve a greater return on their investment.

    And whilst project managing this build themselves may save them some money now, they may find themselves running into problems which will cost them far more in the long run.

    I just don’t think they’ve thought this through.

    Oops. I’m pregnant again.

  2. Dipso

    A bigger space for more art. I don’t see a downside.

  3. Manny

    While I congratulate the MCA on their new extension I don’t feel that my own ‘special needs’ will be catered for. Ripped off!

  4. shagufta

    Great job getting it over the line and the very generous funds from the Mordant family.
    Just a pity it has to look like a 2007 home renovation from Vaucluse/Bellvue Hill tacked on to the existing building… an opportunity lost on an iconic site.

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