Remarkable new Rockhampton Museum of Art opens its doors

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A brand new multi-million dollar art museum which hosts one of Australia’s best regional art collections has officially opened in Rockhampton.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, Arts Minister Leeanne Enoch, Member for Rockhampton Barry O’Rourke and Member for Keppel Brittany Lauga joined the Mayor and other dignitaries to tour the new $36.5 million Rockhampton Museum of Art today as part of the city’s opening celebrations.

The Premier said the Rockhampton Museum of Art, which is six times the size of the previous building, is the new cultural tourism jewel in the crown for Central Queensland.

“Rockhampton is renowned for having one of the best regional art collections in the country with works from John Brack, Arthur Boyd, Russell Drysdale, Sidney Nolan, Jeffrey Smart and Margaret Olley but the old gallery was too small to display them properly,” the Premier said.

“Now the city has a new multi-million dollar three-storey world-class venue to host these national treasures from the modernism and contemporary period and other exciting exhibitions as well.

“The design also puts the museum on par with some of our country’s most respected art galleries and I want to congratulate Rockhampton Regional Council for leading the project’s design and construction which powered on through COVID supporting 165 local construction jobs. 

“With international borders now open and our tourism recovery in full swing, the new Rockhampton Museum of Art will be top of the list for the region’s cultural tourism experiences.

“The Museum will drive tourists to the region not just now but for years to come which will support even more local jobs especially in the lead up to Brisbane 2032.

“All three levels of government contributed to deliver this important project for the people of Rockhampton to enjoy and tourists to love for decades to come.”

Minister for the Arts Leeanne Enoch said the Palaszczuk Government had invested $15 million into the $36.5 million Rockhampton Museum of Art through the Building Our Regions program and Arts Queensland investment.

“The Palaszczuk Government acknowledges the important role of cultural infrastructure in growing regional development and creating local jobs that last well beyond the construction phase,” Minister Enoch said.

“The Rockhampton Museum of Art opens with three outstanding exhibitions, 2022 Gold Award, Here We Meet and Welcome Home which presents Rockhampton’s acclaimed collection of art works in their new home, and I encourage everyone to put it on their must-do lists.

“The arts are key to delivering our plan for economic recovery from COVID-19, each year injecting $8.5 billion into the state’s economy and supporting more than 92,000 jobs for Queenslanders.”

Member for Rockhampton Barry O’Rourke thanked the Palaszczuk Government for backing locals to deliver a world class venue.

“The new gallery includes international standard double volume exhibition spaces, retail and café spaces, flexible multipurpose areas and administration space, all designed to host exciting exhibitions,” he said.   

“This is a great outcome for Rockhampton, and we are ready to welcome visitors back to this region and to this awesome new gallery.  

“I want to commend everyone who has been involved in this project to date, they should be incredibly proud to have been part of this important project for our region.

“The gallery’s ongoing employment in the arts industry, related services and cultural tourism opportunities will continue to support the Rockhampton community for years to come.”

Member for Keppel Brittany Lauga said she was excited for the opportunities the project provided to the growing number of talented local artists.

“This investment will provide key benefits for the region’s artists and arts sector and provide an incredible experience for visitors to this awe-inspiring new gallery,” Ms Lauga said.  

Rockhampton Regional Council Mayor Tony Williams said it was time to start a new chapter in the region’s arts and cultural story.

“If art decorates space, then stories decorate time and the story of the Rockhampton Museum of Art is one that will be told for decades to come,” Mayor Williams said.

“The Museum of Art is more than just an art gallery. It is a new home for our community. It will be a place where children will learn about First Nations history and where adults will learn new skills in our various classes.”

Funding for the total Rockhampton Museum of Art project was provided by all three levels of government including $15 million from the Queensland Government (including $2 million for the business case), $13.475 million from the Rockhampton Regional Council and $10 million from the Federal Government.

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