Venturous and engaging: Rockhampton Museum of Art


Intended by a tripartite architectural staff that coalesces the regional and national skills of Conrad Gargett, Clare Design and style and Brian Hooper Architect, the new Rockhampton Museum of Art is a catalyst for the improvement of artwork and lifestyle in regional Queensland and a new community setting up that considerably contributes to revitalizing the CBD of the Central Queensland city. The $36-million endeavour was championed by the Capricorn Coastline neighborhood and arts patrons from across Queensland below the leadership of former Rockhampton Location Mayor Margaret Strelow. Jointly funded by the federal and state governments in association with the Rockhampton Regional Council, the handsome 3-storey elaborate has a floor space of just below 6,000 sq. metres, comprising of gallery, administration, schooling, retail and hospitality spaces.

Proven as the Rockhampton Artwork Gallery in the late 1960s, the museum is the custodian of an enviable assortment of twentieth-century Australian paintings. This municipal asset was largely amassed in the second fifty percent of the 1970s, in the course of the latter several years of the prolonged mayoral reign of Rex Pilbeam. Primary Minister Gough Whitlam experienced instigated a funding plan that helped community councils to buy Australian art. The guileful Pilbeam properly monopolized this two-for-1 federal matching initiative to funnel 3-quarters of the nationwide funding into Rockhampton.

Welcome Home was the first exhibition in the new building and included artworks that were unable to be displayed previously because of limited space in the old museum.

Welcome Residence was the 1st exhibition in the new developing and provided artworks that have been unable to be displayed beforehand because of confined house in the aged museum.


Harry Frith

The expense in the museum is commensurate with the top quality of its nationally considerable artwork collection. For the official opening in February 2022, critical works from this selection have been thoughtfully curated and elegantly hung in the commodious floor-ground gallery. The new constructing will permit the institution to present countrywide and global touring exhibitions alongside performs from the core selection. Two huge, flexible gallery spaces are vertically stacked, jogging longways east–west on the web site, with the floor-floor gallery soaring to a peak of pretty much 8 metres. The top rated level houses a more intimate area of 4 metres, floor to ceiling. The precise ceiling configuration of these highly serviced areas discreetly expresses the muscular off-kind, in-situ structural concrete beams that span north–south. The numerous informal and interstitial spots of the developing present an sufficient canvas for neighborhood-enriching installations, plans, activities and events, exemplified by the imagined-provoking mural perform of D Harding, Wall Composition on Darumbal (2021), which is scribed directly on to the wall of the museum’s foyer.

Rockhampton was proven in 1858 and prospered as a port city by means of the accomplishment of agriculture and mining in the region. Right now, Australia’s beef funds has a population of additional than 80,000 folks. The generous structure of the colonial city’s streets and lanes strongly resembles that of the Melbourne CBD’s well known Hoddle Grid – the usually recognized rationalization becoming that two of Rockhampton’s surveyors, Arthur F. Wood and Francis Clarke, were professionally linked with surveyor and artist Robert Hoddle in Melbourne in the initial fifty percent of the nineteenth century. From 1909 to 1939, steam trams ran alongside a amount of these urbane boulevards.

The new building, which is almost six times the size of the old gallery, will enable the institution to present international touring exhibitions.

The new constructing, which is nearly six instances the size of the outdated gallery, will enable the establishment to existing intercontinental touring exhibitions.


Harry Frith

The museum sits confidently on Quay Road, an architecturally prosperous, tree-lined, riverside avenue on the japanese edge of the town centre. Quay Street and the western bank of Tunuba (the Fitzroy River) have been reimagined as an inclusive and superior-quality riparian leisure precinct that activates this component of the metropolis in a 2018 placemaking collaboration involving Urbis and Woods Bagot. The museum web site was previously occupied by an undistinguished late-twentieth-century office environment making, which was demolished. The delivery of the new operate was initiated as a conventional lump sum contract, which was altered to a procurement course of action that sought constrained input from the architects in the course of construction.

The porous determine-ground diagram of the museum sets up a new pedestrian website link from Quay Avenue throughout the rear lane and by way of to East Street, slicing ideal by means of the interior of the creating as a tall atrium, and the foyer reads convincingly as element of a new urban affliction that entwines the official and happenstantial encounters of the gallery in just the public and mercantile daily life of the city. This new promenade currently awaits a formal architectural gesture or landscape placing to announce it at the metropolis finish (on the retail-centered East Avenue). The intimately scaled forecourt on Quay Avenue and the exterior verandah-like edge to the north deftly meld and energize the floor airplane of the modern intervention and the venerable nineteenth-century streetscape. Siting the ground-degree cafe on the northern edge of the foyer, exterior the envelope of the gallery’s conditioned and managed areas, but visually linked, will meaningfully activate the curtilage of the adjacent Customs Property as a peaceful, community outdoor area.

An interior street through the centre of the building establishes a new connection between the city’s main street and the river.

An interior street by means of the centre of the constructing establishes a new connection between the city’s primary road and the river.


Harry Frith

The museum is an infill making in the heritage precinct. A crucial preparing shift was to mass and tackle it perpendicularly to Quay Avenue, deftly distinguishing it from the precinct’s remarkably intact assortment of Victorian and early-twentieth-century properties. Nineteen of these commodious piles are listed on the Queensland Heritage Sign-up and their architects contain Richard Gailey, J. W. Wilson, James Flint and F. D. G. Stanley. The centrepiece of this engaging scene is the 1901 Customs Residence, set back again from the avenue alignment to amplify its civic great importance. The engineer and architect Alfred Barton Brady oversaw the layout and development of customs properties in Townsville, Maryborough, Mackay and Rockhampton at the transform of the century (as Queensland Government Architect) and the Rockhampton work, created in the Classical Revival Style, is credited to the Govt Architect’s chief draughtsman, Thomas Pye, with input on detailing from George Payne. The museum’s triple-height portico, with its elegant structure of Miesian precision, thoroughly erodes the mass in spatial deference to this vital colonial landmark. By using an exterior eyrie accessed from level two and supplying sights out to the towering topographic backdrop of Nurrim (Mount Archer), the new building empathetically engages with the welcoming, semicircular colonnade of Corinthian columns and the crowning copper dome of Customs House.

An infill building within a heritage precinct, the museum’s siting distinguishes it from the surrounding Victorian and early-twentieth-century buildings.

An infill building in a heritage precinct, the museum’s siting distinguishes it from the bordering Victorian and early-twentieth-century structures.


Harry Frith

The Stanwell sandstone employed to clad the museum’s graphic, asymmetrical gable walls (to the road entrance and rear of Quay Lane) is tough-sawn, offcut parts from the very same quarry as the stone utilised to assemble Customs Household, with the modern use expertly distinguished from the finesse of the Customs Household stonemasonry by way of an engaging directness and utility of design.

Arriving early for the official opening, I enjoyed a instant for contemplation ahead of heading within for the formalities. Just a minor even more upstream from right here are the rocky escarpments that gave the colonial city its title and protect against ships from heading any further more up the river. Ideas about the roles and responsibilities of community architecture in towns, towns and regions – particularly people of the present-day artwork gallery – jostle with reflections on the layered stories and histories of this web page on the land of the Darumbal persons. The initial speaker of the opening ceremony was Indigenous Elder Nhaya Nicky Hatfield, whose welcome to country centered the head and described how the museum project has embraced her neighborhood and supported the pathway to reconciliation. There is a large amount at stake in a challenge of this political standing and group expectation the excellent, performance and legibility of this venturous and partaking new creating ably techniques up to the worries and embraces the possibilities.


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