The building
Indigenous galleries & entrance

In 2007 construction began on Stage 1, a major extension of the NGA building. Designed by Andrew Andersons AM of PTW Architects, Stage 1 was completed in September 2010 and was officially opened on Thursday 30 September 2010 by Her Excellency Ms Quentin Bryce AC, the Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia.

The development featured an entrance and foyer, shop space, Gandel Hall, the Street Cafe, and 11 Indigenous art galleries built specifically to showcase works from the world's largest collection of Australian Indigenous art.

Stage 1 was designed to provide a more legible and accessible ground-floor entrance to the south of the building. Escalators were built into the entrance area to and from the public spaces on the main level, along with a lift to provide unassisted access to and from the underground visitor car park.

The foyer area included visitor cloaking and reception facilities and a shop space, which in 2016 was transformed into NGA Play. Adjacent to NGA Play is the function space, Gandel Hall, which is used for a variety of public programs, conferences, openings, weddings, and other special events. Gandel Hall opens onto the Australian Garden and James Turrell's Skyspace, Within without.


At the ground-level entrance a dedicated gallery was built for The Aboriginal Memorial, one of the most important works of art in the national collection. Appropriately, this sculptural installation is the first work of art visitors see as they enter the Gallery.

Above Gandel Hall are the 11 galleries dedicated to the display of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art , which connect with the galleries on the main level. Each of these galleries were designed to display specific types of Indigenous art, with areas for small, early dot paintings, large galleries for larger dot paintings, spaces for bark paintings, and for watercolours, textiles, prints, ceramics and sculptures.

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art galleries cover key art regions in Australia and the Torres Strait, from remote, regional and urban areas, and display over 600 works of art. The NGA's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art collection comprises over 7,500 works of art, which reflect the richness and diversity of artistic practice across the country.

The main galleries are lit by natural light, apart from those areas intended for the display of light-sensitive works such as textiles, baskets and works on paper, including watercolours. These are the first galleries in Australia designed specifically for displaying different aspects of Indigenous Australian art.

Technical and support areas

Other main elements of Stage 1 included:

  • the fit-out of the Undercroft to the Temporary Exhibitions Galleries for dedicated art packing, framing, mountcutting, storage, and administrative facilities, including dedicated quarantine inspection and treatment spaces;
  • separated loading docks and circulation routes for works of art and general goods; and
  • landscape works and car park designed to harvest surface water for reuse in the irrigation and water elements.

Australian materials

Materials used in the building of Stage 1 were sourced from around Australia and include dark grey South Australian Mintaro slate for the flooring of the Aboriginal Memorial Gallery and Foyer; Queensland red ironbark and South Australian Sawn Austral black granite for the flooring of Gandel Hall; Cairns Chillagoe green marble for the walls of the toilets and parents room; and Cairns Chillagoe white marble for the Foyer wall.

image: National Gallery of Australia View towards new main entrance Photograph: John Gollings 2010

National Gallery of Australia View towards main entrance Photograph: John Gollings 2010

The NGA's vision

The NGA is committed to presenting the national collection of art—together with exhibitions, education and public programs—and to providing facilities which meet visitors' expectations, particularly for those visitors with special needs, such as people with disabilities. The NGA also acknowledges its role as custodian of a significant, heritage-listed public building and sculpture garden. To maintain this commitment, the NGA building must continue to be enhanced to better serve its visitors by removing barriers to access and to meet the challenges of a growing collection of works of art.

Australian Garden and James Turrell Skyspace sculpture

The external Skyspace installation sculpture Within without , designed by American artist James Turrell, is located in the Australian Garden to the south east of the ground-level entrance.

Original architect

The NGA acknowledges and thanks Mr Colin Madigan AO, the principal design architect for the original building.

Background to Stage 1

  • On 13 December 2006 the Australian Government announced it would provide funding to enhance and extend the National Gallery of Australia’s building.
  • On 13 July 2007 Manteena was formally appointed as the project’s Construction Manager.
  • Stage 1 officially opened on Thursday 30 September by Her Excellency Ms Quentin Bryce AC, the Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia.
  • On 1 October 2010 Stage 1 was opened to the public.
  • The extension was designed by Andrew Andersons AM of PTW Architects.