Valuation delivers multimillion-dollar boost to Newcastle Art Gallery collection

City of Newcastle

Newcastle Art Gallery’s collection has been independently valued at $126 million, an increase of $11 million since key works were last reviewed.

The $126 million value means the collection is now the most valuable of any gallery in Australia not located in a capital city.

Newcastle Art Gallery Foundation Chair Suzie Galwey, Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce, Newcastle Art Gallery Director Lauretta Morton, NSW Deputy Premier Paul Toole and Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes with some of the most iconic works of art in the collection, including William Dobell's renowned Portrait of a Strapper (above .

The Gallery was closed in February 2022 to allow for the collection to be prepared for relocation to secure storage ahead of the building’s $40 million expansion.

As part of the decanting process, key works were revalued, with Joseph Lycett’s Inner view of Newcastle and Russell Drysdale’s The crow trap recording the most significant increases, with more than $1 million added to each of their valuations. Five other iconic paintings including William Dobell’s renowned Portrait of a Strapper rose by more than half a million dollars each.

The value of Joseph Lycett's Inner view of Newcastle c1818 has risen by more than $1 million.

Significant female artists in the collection were also among works whose values have risen substantially, with two of Cressida Campbell’s works on paper more than doubling in value. Notable increases were also recorded for works by important artists including Eugene von Guérard, Hilda Rix Nicholas, Brett Whiteley, Grace Cossington Smith and Arthur Streeton.

Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said the long-awaited expansion of Newcastle Art Gallery would allow the community to view and appreciate even more of these iconic artworks.

“City of Newcastle is proud to be the custodian of one of Australia’s most significant public collections of art, however only 1% of Newcastle Art Gallery’s works were able to be displayed in any year due to a lack of space in the existing building,” Cr Nelmes said.

“The expansion project includes an additional 1,600 square meters of exhibition space with dedicated areas on the lower level for our collection, offering the ability to share more of these wonderful works with the community.

“By more than doubling the size of the Gallery and delivering a suite of modern facilities, this project will deliver an expanded and upgraded gallery of international standing that will offer a valuable cultural tourism opportunity for Newcastle and the Hunter.”

Newcastle Art Gallery Director Lauretta Morton OAM said the collection was significant and diverse, providing a time capsule of Australian art dating back more than 200 years.

“Thanks to the generosity of Dr Roland Pope, whose initial bequest in 1945 formed the genesis of the collection, and subsequent donations from major benefactors, artists, the Newcastle Art Gallery Foundation, Newcastle Art Gallery Society and our community we are honoured to be the custodian of the city’s collection with works of art of local, national and international importance,” Ms Morton said.

“We are also proud to share this incredible collection with the rest of Australia through a touring loans program to regional, state and national institutions. During the past four years alone, many of our works of art have travelled to galleries around the country and have been viewed by approximately one million people, with 39 works of art currently involved in 11 exhibitions across Australia.”

The collection is also available to view online via the Newcastle Art Gallery website, while key works are represented in the Night Galleries project at sites throughout the city including Market Street Steps, Kuwumi Place and Pacific Park.

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