The Art Gallery of NSW has been planning its Sydney Modern expansion for quite some time. The debonair and ambitious expansion package would see the gallery double in floor space, with new facilities and environments being created. And now, the state government has announced that it is contributing a whopping $244 million to the project, with construction set to begin in 2019 and be completed in time for the 100th anniversary of the Archibald Prize in 2021.

In addition to the state government’s contribution, The Art Gallery of NSW have raised $70 million from private donors, with a fundraising program over the next few months expected to generate a further $30 million. In the past, the gallery has missed out on prestigious exhibitions due to a lack of space, with better-equipped galleries in Melbourne and Brisbane scoring them instead. according to Sydney Business Chamber executive director Patricia Forsythe, this expansion of the gallery evens the playing field.

The state government has announced that new spaces will accomodate “art, live performance and film along with spaces to learn, study and participate in cultural experiences.” Although the name of the space is Sydney Modern, it will be utilised for both traditional and contemporary exhibits. Detractors of the project suggest that it impedes on public space. Former Prime Minister Paul Keating described the new building as a “megaplex” and suggested it was a waste of public funds. Supporters believe it will raise Sydney’s standing as an arts and culture club.