The Sydney Modern Project at the Art Gallery of NSW officially has an opening date: December 3, 2022. The $344 million undertaking was announced in 2017 and is one of the biggest cultural developments in Sydney since the Opera House opened in 1973. It sees the 150-year-old gallery’s footprint doubled, thanks to the construction of a new building designed by Tokyo architecture firm Sanaa.

The Sydney Modern wing will house a permanent Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander gallery at its entrance, as well as nine works by contemporary Australian and international artists specifically commissioned for the space. Wiradjuri artists Lorraine Connelly-Northey and Karla Dickens have both created works for the gallery, as have Simryn Gill, Jonathan Jones, legendary Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama, Lee Mingwei, Richard Lewer, Lisa Reihana and contemporary sculptor Francis Upritchard. Galleries in the new wing – which sits to the north of the original 19th-century building – have been designed specifically to house 21st-century art.

A cavernous underground space, which will be used for special commissions and performances, has been worked into a decommissioned oil tank, which was built into the eastern side of the Domain to provide fuel for the naval fleet at nearby Garden Island during WWII.

Local architects Tonkin Zulaikha Greer have been tasked with giving the existing sandstone building a refresh. Its existing collection will be completely re-installed, plus a public art garden will straddle the old and new structures. A new civil forecourt is also in the works – it’ll have two reflection pools with seating and trees.

Originally slated to open in late 2021, construction on the new wing was delayed in 2019 when the project dumped original builder Lendlease, after the company costed the works above the budgeted $344 million. After re-tendering the project, the gallery announced Richard Crookes Constructions as the new builder.

Sydney Modern is slated to open on December 3, 2022.