Words by Della Vreeland Images supplied
The time has finally arrived. The state-of-the-art Shepparton Art Museum (SAM) is set to open this month following multiple delays due to the COVID pandemic.
Dubbed a landmark cultural destination, the $50 million awe-inspiring museum has been designed by internationally renowned architects Denton Corker Marshall. The design was unanimously selected from an architectural competition in 2017 and endorsed by the Greater Shepparton City Council.
According to Denton Corker Marshall founding director John Denton, SAM represents an important cultural contribution to a regional city.
‘Sitting between the lake and the main road into town from Melbourne, it presents a strikingly bold signal – a new contemporary building added to the fabric of the city,’ he says.
The structure is designed to act as a ‘live’ building, the space is characterised by simplicity and clarity, with every surface presenting an opportunity for display, event or installation.
Conceived as a land sculpture immersed into the surrounding landscape, the museum is the tallest building in Shepparton and acts as a beacon in the town’s low, flat topography.
The museum houses over 4,000 artworks, four main gallery spaces including a dedicated Kids Space, Visitors’ Information Centre, Kaiela Arts Aboriginal community arts centre, outdoor amphitheatre and Art Hill, as well as a cafe and 150-person event space and terrace.
‘The building is about hope and aspiration, with a range of welcoming spaces and places designed to invite all members of the public to meet, enjoy, and call their own through arts and culture,’ SAM artistic director and CEO Rebecca Coates says.
‘There’s a play of theatre, performance and comfortable reflection with natural light and views to the landscape connecting people to context and landscape.’
SAM only recently transitioned from working under the council to operating as a not-for-profit independent model.
It was also during this time that the museum started moving into the newly-constructed building. Nestled upon the banks of Victoria Park Lake, the museum was to open earlier this year had it not been for the extended lockdowns.
‘It’s been very challenging this year,’ Rebecca says. ‘It’s meant we’ve had to reschedule, rethink, and look at timelines. But all-in-all, given what’s happening in other sectors, it could be so much worse.’
One of Australia’s leading art museums, SAM is renowned for its significant connection to ceramics as well as indigenous artists and works. Located in a regional town with a rich multicultural landscape, the museum serves to further the town’s flourishing community through welcoming, inclusive and engaging spaces for all.
The new museum’s inaugural suite of exhibitions will feature works by emerging and established Australian artists, spanning sculpture, painting, video, photography, ceramics and installation. It is also set to showcase Australia’s most significant collection of south-east Australian Aboriginal art, presented alongside a dynamic lineup of world premiere Australian exclusives and commissions celebrating artists from across Australia and around the world.
‘SAM holds a special place in the hearts of Australians, presenting work by some of Australia’s most significant contemporary artists, locating their work within a global context,’ Rebecca says.
‘These first exhibitions speak to our unique people and place and acknowledge and celebrate our local Yorta Yorta people and shared culture.
‘This is the most significant and exciting moment in SAM’s history as an organisation. I look forward to sharing this new chapter that will build on its past legacy and create a new vision for the future.’
WHAT: Shepparton Art Museum opening
WHEN: Saturday, November 20
FIND OUT MORE: sheppartonartmuseum.com.au
We wish to acknowledge the Yorta Yorta people as traditional owners of this land and to pay our respects to their Elders, past and present.