Lake Macquarie City Art Gallery rebrand and redevelopment

It was a pleasure to recently attend the launch of Lake Macquarie’s re-branded MAC Museum of Art and Culture, Lake Macquarie – yapang.
Born from the success of one of NSW’s oldest regional galleries, and with support from the State Government’s Regional Cultural Fund, MAC was opened on Friday 22nd November by Arts Minister Don Harwin, who was ably assisted in ribbon cutting duties by Lake Macquarie Mayor, Clr Kay Fraser.

In addition to the re-brand, new capital works feature a refreshed gallery with increased exhibition, back of house and public spaces that amplify in all sorts of ways the programming potential of the place and one of the most beautiful sites occupied by a public art gallery/museum in NSW.

For the past eight months or so, the gallery on the headland overlooking the lake at Booragul, has been closed to the public, as the building underwent a $2.3 million redevelopment. Some changes are obvious before you walk through the gallery’s front door.

For one thing, the placement of the gallery’s front door has changed. The entrance is no longer up a ramp around the side of the building but through a door that leads straight into the central area. Then, straight ahead, past the gallery’s shop, is a new addition, a large covered terrace which can be used for everything from art education sessions to a for hire function space.

Art can be seen from here, with prominent works in the gallery’s sculpture garden front and centre, but what fixes the eyes is the view across the water towards Warners Bay. Looking out over Lake Macquarie, even Minister Harwin felt obliged to sketch out his entry for next year’s Wynne Prize!

The redevelopment and expansion of the gallery on the headland at Booragul provides more space for exhibitions and collection storage.

Director Debbie Abraham said there was about 100 square metres of additional floor space, allowing for three exhibitions simultaneously, rather than two.

“We want to have big curated and touring exhibitions, we want to have Aboriginal exhibitions, we want to have Aboriginal work here all the time,” Ms Abraham said.

The director said the gallery’s commitment to Aboriginal art and the community was built into MAC, with a dedicated program called “yapang”, which was an Awabakal word meaning “pathway”.

Definitely worth a trip up the Newcastle/Sydney freeway to beautiful Lake Macquarie.

Michael Rolfe

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