||Harold Mitchell, Chairman of the National
This is my first report as Chairman of the National Gallery of Australia
Council and I would like to place on record the distinguished service
to the Gallery of my predecessor Mr Kerry Stokes AO whose term of four
years as Chairman concluded last December. Mr Stokes had been Chairman
since 1996 and a member of Council since 1993. On behalf of the Council
and staff of the Gallery, I would like to thank Mr Stokes for his dedication
and commitment to the Gallery. Other changes to the Council include the
appointment of two new Council Members, Mr Michael Chaney and Dr Peter
The past year has been an important one for the Gallery, with all challenges
being met with considerable success. Broadening access to the Gallery’s
collection continues both nationally and internationally. This was achieved
through a series of successful exhibitions displayed at the Gallery and
at venues throughout Australia and internationally. Similarly, the Partnership
Program with regional galleries and museums throughout Australia continues
to play an important role. This program fosters close professional links
and an exchange of skills between the Gallery and the participating institutions.
Access to the collection of works of art, Gallery programs and activities
was also increased. The Gallery’s website, www.nga.gov.au, is also
constantly being upgraded and enhanced.
The range of exhibitions displayed at the Gallery was extensive and diverse
and included: Inside Out: New Chinese art; Aboriginal Art in
Modern Worlds; Going to Extremes: George Silk, photojournalist;
Uncommon World: Aspects of contemporary Australian art; Painting
Forever: Tony Tuckson; and Off the Page: Contemporary artists books
from Picasso to Clemente. The year ended with the long awaited and
highly acclaimed Monet & Japan.
The work of Arthur Boyd was displayed at Australia House in London as
part of the arts program to coincide with Australia Week and the Centenary
of Federation celebrations. The Gallery’s contribution to the Centenary
of Federation celebrations, the exhibition Federation: Australian art
and society 1901–2001, was displayed at the Gallery in Canberra
and then travelled throughout Australia.
During the year, the Gallery conducted a process to select an architectural
firm to undertake a major building enhancement program. Tonkin Zulaikha
Greer Architects were selected to work with the Gallery on these improvements.
When completed, the plans for redevelopment will provide opportunities
for enhanced presentation of the Gallery collection, as well as new visitor
facilities with much easier visitor access to the building.
The Gallery benefits greatly from our volunteer guides, researchers and
hospitality group. With 2001 the International Year of the Volunteer,
this is a great opportunity to celebrate and acknowledge their contribution.
On behalf of the Council, I would like to thank all Gallery volunteers
for their continued involvement.
Important works of art were acquired throughout the year. This was in
line with the Council’s decision to continue to build and strengthen
the existing collection through the acquisition of premium works of art.
Many of the works could not have been acquired had it not been for the
support of many benefactors. Under the chairmanship of Mr Tony Berg AM,
and with an expanded and committed Board of Directors, the National Gallery
Foundation has played a leading role in supporting the acquisition of
many important works of art. During the year the Foundation embarked on
a Capital Campaign to assist with the acquisition of works of art and
is having significant success.
Sadly, this year saw the passing of one of the Gallery’s major
benefactors, Dr Orde Poynton AO CMG. Dr Poynton’s munificence over
many years had contributed in a vital way to building the collection of
International Prints, Drawings and Illustrated Books.
We continue to enjoy support from many corporations and individuals and
are grateful to the corporate sponsors for their involvement with the
exhibition program and other elements of our activities.
The Council would like to acknowledge the support received from the Federal
Government throughout the year, and in particular by our two Ministers,
Senator the Hon. Richard Alston and the Hon. Peter McGauran MP, and officers
of the Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts.
The Government’s continued support of Art Indemnity Australia, which
enabled the Gallery to present the Monet & Japan exhibition
this year, is very much appreciated.
Finally I would like to acknowledge the Director, Dr Brian Kennedy, and
the staff of the Gallery for their efforts during another eventful, challenging
and successful year.
Chairman of Council