National Gallery of Australia predicts a very different summer after lockdown ends | Canberra weather

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Seeing large works of art covered in black shrouds has to be one of the most definitive symbols of a city on lockdown. At the National Gallery of Australia, statues and paintings were covered, bodies of water were emptied and staff were sent home. It’s a scene that played out in one version or another in city buildings, though it’s particularly shocking for a scene designed to be open 364 days a year – every day except Christmas. Director Nick Mitzevich is hoping that by Christmas Day, the gallery will be closed naturally, rather than because of the pandemic. But it will be a strange summer, the first without an international blockbuster in many years. Large-scale art exhibitions – those that draw thousands of interstate visitors and large lineups – have long been a summer staple in Canberra. But delays in the international art world mean that even the best-worked out plans have been delayed, in some cases by years. The NGA has been open for most of the last year and has even managed to stage its highly anticipated Boticelli to Van Gogh: Masterpieces from the National Gallery in London, albeit with British curators overseeing via Zoom, and varied crowds due to sporadic blockages throughout last summer. “It should be remembered that most of the international galleries have only just entered,” Mitzevich said. “The Louvre, the Tate, the Met, they’ve all been closed for many, many months, so if you borrow a work, the whole process of getting it checked out, cropped, preserved, then packaged, crated and shipped. … there are these snowballing delays happening. Most projects won’t be canceled, most projects will just have to have their schedules recalibrated. That’s kind of where we’re at. ” Meanwhile, the gallery’s next major exhibition, a retrospective of Australian artist Jeffrey Smart marking the 100th anniversary of his birth and slated to open next month, is also expected to be delayed. Staff and contractors are unable to begin preparing temporary exhibit space – a process that can take several weeks. But a lot of work is still underway behind the scenes, including plans for the gallery’s 40th anniversary, in just over a year. Mr Mitzevich said the anniversary will be about celebrating the building itself, and staff have already started removing some of the internal tweaks made by different curators and directors over the years. These include revealing windows that were previously covered in plasterboard, moving temporary walls, and showcasing some of the building’s best features. “Nearly 20 windows covered with Placoplâtre have recently been reopened,” he said. “[The plasterboarding] was done to maximize hanging space, and what it does is turn the building into a bit of a white box. “The original intention of the building was to give a very modern perspective to a new gallery, and so when the government decided to build and assemble a national collection and a national gallery, they wanted it to reflect a modern world. . ” But the gallery’s governing document, the 1966 Linsday Report, made it clear that the NGA should not imitate what was happening in other galleries, whether in Australia or the rest of the world. “Architect Colin Madigan and his colleagues constructed a building that had to reflect the modern age, and this modern age was all about form, space and size,” Mitzevich said. “That’s what the original National Gallery building was like, and materials were very important to that, the kind of material democracy – simple glass, concrete, and stone.” And so what we do is bring things back to the original architecture, revealing the materials, the concrete, the glass panes, so the experience of visiting the gallery can truly be memorable as the architecture has a lot of unique characteristics. “For much of the life of the gallery, what was fashionable in gallery curatorial practices was the white box. But what we see now are non-traditional spaces being used and the uniqueness of the spaces. popular.” Visitors will be able to see some of these features once the gallery reopens, including a new hanging from the Australian collection. But Mr Mitzevich warned that would not happen overnight. “You can’t just flip a switch and open the door tomorrow – it takes a while for everything to kick back in,” he said. “It’s a big machine, and we’re used to doing maintenance and safety checks and keeping it running 24/7. up. “Our reporters work hard to provide local and up-to-date news to the community. Here’s how you can continue to access our trusted content:

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