The Art Gallery of New South Wales is the premier gallery in the state and houses some of the most prestigious Western and European art in Australia. The sandstone entrance was signed by Walter Liberty Vernon and stands as a symbol of high Victorian architecture in Australia. It is a favourite destination for tourists visiting Sydney.
The Art Gallery of New South Wales (AGNSW), located in The Domain in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, is the most important public gallery in Sydney and one of the largest in Australia. The Gallery’s first public exhibition opened in 1874. Admission is free to the general exhibition space, which displays Australian (from settlement to contemporary), European and Asian art. A dedicated Asian Gallery was opened in 2003.
On 24 April 1871, a public meeting was convened in Sydney to establish an Academy of Art ‘for the purpose of promoting the fine arts through lectures, art classes and regular exhibitions.’ From 1872 until 1879 the Academy’s main activity was the organisation of annual art exhibitions. The first exhibition of colonial art, under the auspices of the Academy, was held at the Chamber of Commerce, Sydney Exchange in 1874. In 1875 Apsley Falls byConrad Martens, commissioned by the trustees and purchased for £50 out of the first government grant of £500, became the first work on paper by an Australian artist to be acquired by the Gallery.
The Gallery’s collection was first housed at Clark’s Assembly Hall in Elizabeth Street where it was open to the public on Friday and Saturday afternoons. The collection was relocated in 1879 to a wooden annexe to the Garden Palace built for the Sydney International Exhibition in the Domain and was officially opened as “The Art Gallery of New South Wales”. In 1882, the first Director, Eliezer Montefiore and his fellow trustees opened the art gallery on Sunday afternoons from 2 pm to 5 pm.