Today marks the 125th Anniversary of the Art Gallery of Western Australia.
On our foundation in 1895, current issues included the Colony’s parliament debating a new Mine Regulation Act designed to save lives from mining companies pursuing profit over people. At the same time in the East Kimberley, a different set of laws were being applied during the Killing Times – a 50+ year period where the Aboriginal population was decimated because pastoralists pursued profit over people.
Our birthday in 2020 mirrors our beginning. The WA Government is battling a miner to secure our border and protect lives over profit in a global pandemic. Meanwhile, the Black Lives Matter movement shows that society is far from ending racial discrimination.
However, it’s in these times where we face global challenges and uncertainties, that art museums are more necessary than ever. For art museums are agents of change, conduits for difficult conversations, mirrors to our good and bad. They are also cultural hotspots of invention and experimentation, creators of environments that embody diversity and places to experience, connect and play with incredible art and big ideas.
In our 125th year, we are taking the opportunity to reflect then redefine the Gallery’s role in the 21st Century. This work has already begun with a new five-year strategic plan that will be launched in the coming months.
At the heart of this work, is our aspiration to create inspirational and ground-breaking artistic exhibitions, content and experiences that express and amplify the many dynamic and nuanced voices that comprise our world and our communities.
Reflecting on our past and examining our present, our Anniversary is a time to celebrate achievements and commit to a better future. We want to be a catalyst for change, a place of ideas and exchange, a space for multiple voices, for truth-telling, for creative ambition and shared histories; a contemporary voice of Western Australians and our relationship to the rest of the world.
I invite you to take part in our journey.
31 July 2020