An investment in the future of the Gallery and the region.
We are currently planning an exciting major expansion of Bendigo Art Gallery. Thanks to the success and growth of the Gallery, we have outgrown our current facilities. If funding is secured, the expansion will showcase Traditional Owner culture and increase our exhibition and education spaces, providing more opportunities for residents and visitors to enjoy the arts.
The Gallery is owned and operated by the City of Greater Bendigo, which has named the Gallery expansion as its number one priority project. The Gallery and the City are currently working hard to advocate for Federal Government funding and secure philanthropic support for the project.
Why expand the Gallery?
Bendigo Art Gallery has outgrown its current facilities. We require more storage space for our significant and expanding collection of works, and the continued success of our international exhibition program has meant we have outgrown our exhibition space.
What will the expansion deliver?
The project will deliver a world-class learning centre for students, second-level blockbuster exhibition space, Traditional Owner Place of Keeping for Dja Dja Wurrung artefacts, expanded access to free and collection-based exhibitions, redeveloped restaurant with a City of Gastronomy offering, expanded commercial opportunities including pop-up blockbuster exhibition shop, accessible amenities and expanded public spaces.
Who designed the expansion?
Architecture firms Jackson Clements Burrows and Clare Design have designed a contemporary, two-storey extension of the Gallery featuring a white exterior, referencing the white clay of the Bendigo region.
The façade will be etched with a pattern to be designed by a Dja Dja Wurrung artist, to be appointed at a later date. For now, the artist impressions show a placeholder design inspired by the chevron pattern on a Dja Dja Wurrung shield that has been repatriated and is held by the Gallery as a designated Dja Dja Wurrung Place of Keeping.
The ground floor will be reconfigured, noting the three 19th century galleries, Bolton Court, Drury Court and Abbott Court, are not part of the project and have been sympathetically included in the planned designs.
When will construction start?
Subject to securing the required funds and signing off the necessary planning applications from the City of Greater Bendigo and Heritage Victoria, we plan to start construction in the second half of 2025.
Why wait until 2025 to start construction?
A further $21M in funding needs to be secured before construction can start, which is expected to be a mix of Federal Government and philanthropic funding.
The City of Greater Bendigo will apply for $15M through round two of the Federal Government’s Growing Regions program, which is expected to open in early 2024 and with the outcome of the application to be known by the end of 2024.
A further $6M will be sought through philanthropy.
How much is the expansion and who will pay for it?
The project is estimated to cost $54M when building starts in 2025. Rising construction costs and inflation have impacted the project. This would be the City’s biggest infrastructure project to date and construction needs to start in 2025 so as not to incur further cost increases.
The State Government has committed $21M, the City of Greater Bendigo has committed $9M and the Bendigo Art Gallery Board has committed $3M.
A further $21M is required. The City will apply for $15M through round two of the Federal Government’s Growing Regions program and seek to raise $6M through philanthropic support.
The City of Greater Bendigo and the Gallery will continue to focus their efforts on advocating for Federal funding.
What happens now?
Until all funds are secured, it’s business as usual for us at the Gallery. Staff have secured all exhibition programming through until mid-2025, including a number of major exhibitions.
Will the Gallery have to close during construction?
Subject to funding being secured, when construction does start, the Gallery will need to close.
The project will involve large-scale construction, it will not be safe for staff to work from the site or patrons to visit, and our precious artwork will need to be stored offsite.
Will the Gallery open at another site while construction takes place?
Gallery staff are planning a public program that allows residents and visitors to engage with the arts in other locations while the Gallery is closed. More information will be made available to the community at a later date, subject to funding being secured.
Has there been any community consultation to date? Is Heritage Victoria involved?
Yes, consultation has taken place with Traditional Owners and representatives from the education and disability sectors. Their feedback has informed designs of the building to ensure it is inclusive, accessible and the Gallery is able to enhance its strong education program that we already offer to schools across Greater Bendigo and central Victoria.
The designs have been shared with Heritage Victoria, as the planned expansion adjoins the existing 19th century galleries (it is important to note the 19th century galleries of Bolton Court, Drury Court and Abbott Court are not part of the project and have been sympathetically included in the planned designs).
Planning permit approval is required from both the City of Greater Bendigo and Heritage Victoria before construction can begin.
Should I renew my Gallery membership?
Yes. Memberships provide access to exhibition previews, discounted exhibition tickets, access to public programs and artist talks. Members are the first to receive event information and get a 10% discount in the Gallery shop (for purchases over $5).
Money paid via memberships also raises funds for the Bendigo Art Gallery Board, which goes towards the purchase of new artwork for the Gallery.
Why does the City of Greater Bendigo invest so much in the arts?
The Gallery is owned and operated by the City of Greater Bendigo. The Gallery is a key economic driver for Greater Bendigo and the wider region, and the second-most visited gallery in Victoria behind the National Gallery of Victoria.
For more than 20 years, the City of Greater Bendigo and local tourism industry has built its tourism brand around arts, culture and events.
June 2019 - Project included in the Greater CREATIVE Bendigo Strategy
The Gallery expansion is recognised as an action in the Greater CREATIVE Bendigo Strategy. This strategy identifies new ways to involve more people in shaping the creative community across Greater Bendigo.
June 2021 - Bendigo Art Gallery expansion included as a major initiative in the 2021/2022 City of Greater Bendigo Budget
September 2021 - Feasibility study is completed
The study provides an exciting picture of how the expansion will propel economic and social growth for the region. The study notes the expansion is needed to secure the Gallery’s long-term viability and maintain its position as a leading regional gallery in Australia.
October 2021 - Council commits funds to Bendigo Art Gallery expansion
Greater Bendigo City Council endorses the business case for the planned expansion and votes to allocate $3M in funds to the project. Council to advocate for further funding from other levels of government.
April 2022 - The City of Greater Bendigo names the expansion as its number one project
City of Greater Bendigo names the Gallery expansion as its number one project in the lead up to the 2022/2023 State Budget and calls on the Victorian Government to fund the project through its Budget process.
April 2022 - Community consultation starts
A diverse range of community groups are involved in consultation, including Traditional Owners, education and disability groups. Their feedback informs the design of the building to ensure it is inclusive and accessible to all.
June 2022 - Project recognised as key priority in 2022/2023 City of Greater Bendigo Budget
July 2022 - Council releases funds to finalise Bendigo Art Gallery designs
Greater Bendigo City Council releases $600,000 (out of its previous $3M commitment) to progress its number one priority project and finalise designs to ensure it is investment-ready. Bendigo Art Gallery Board also matches this commitment to help complete the detailed design phase of the project.
September 2022 - Initial designs released and plans lodged
The City of Greater Bendigo and Bendigo Art Gallery appoint architecture firms Jackson Clements Burrows and Clare Design to guide the project and initial artist impressions are released featuring a contemporary design with a white exterior, referencing the white clay of the Bendigo region.
Construction starting remains subject to funding.
November 2022 - Council increases funding commitment to Bendigo Art Gallery expansion
Greater Bendigo City Council votes to increase its funding commitment to the expansion project from $3M to $9M at the November 2022 Council meeting.
November 2022 - State election commitments to fund Bendigo Art Gallery expansion
Bendigo Art Gallery welcomes two State election commitments, from both Labor and the Coalition, for the expansion project.
Labor wins the 2022 election and the project receives a commitment of $21M from the Victorian Government.
September 2023 – Updated Planning Permit and Heritage Victoria Permit lodged
November 2023 – City of Greater Bendigo Planning Permit and Heritage Victoria Permit advertised