Newly-rebranded Museum of Contemporary Art Australia opens today
Who's saying what
Hey remember the MCA? You know, big sandstone thing, in Circular Quay, had a bunch of art in it? Was closed for ages? Well, it is opening back up this Thursday the 29th of March, and while usually it’s rude to comment that someone looks huge when they come back from a hiatus, this is definitely a compliment to the newly-rebranded Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (it used to be the MCA Sydney). The old entryway is still open – now as a way of getting into the restaurant and up to the rooftop, which'll primarily be used as a function space – but this side of things is rather dwarfed by the four levels of glass, concrete and bright, bright colours a years-long $53 million redevelopment has brought into play.
Alongside the ample exhibition spaces – all polished concrete and cavernous, featuring occasional windows in shocking/ refreshing defiance of the white cube gallery ethos – a whole new set of facilities have been put in place to upgrade the MCA into the world-class echelon of museums. The info desk, cloaking and museum store on Level 1 are nothing new, but Level 2 introduces a lecture theatre and seminar room for the delivery of some of the huge amount of public programming lined up for the re-opening season and beyond. And there is a library! A library in a museum that is an art gallery = pretty much a vision of the beatific afterlife, amirite?
Heading up to Level 3, there is the National Centre for Creative Learning, in which the pink and orange and lime highlights that pervade the new design achieve super-stimulating preponderance. It's designed mainly for education through schools, but the sweet digital and workshop facilities create an energy that makes it really exciting to know that there are also programs run for adults.
Perched atop all this, just casually having the most postcard-able view of the harbour, the Bridge and the Opera House imaginable, is a new café and a sculpture terrace, which is going to play host for a year at a time to a series of specially-commissioned pieces. The debut piece, Hany Armanious' Fountain, does all kinds of interesting things bringing together location and ideas of perception and materiality.
There is a super-hectic schedule of opening weekend events, and four exhibitions running for the March 29-June 3 first season of new MCA Australia. A show called Volume One: MCA Collection is an insight into the museum's permanent holdings and a survey of contemporary Australian art through the eyes of MCA Curator Glenn Barkley. “It's very Glenn,” a not-to-be-named Famous Australian Art Person was overheard to say at the media preview.
Marking Time, which has been brought together by MCA Senior Curator Rachel Kent, is an aggregate reflection, via individual investigations into time, and is almost guaranteed to make your head turn inside-out if you try to think about everything in the show all at once. In good world-class style, the MCA is also hosting Christian Marclay's The Clock in its southern hemisphere debut, running the 24-hour video piece (it constructs a day out of representations of the time spliced together from cinema, synced to local time) during the museum's regular 10am-5pm opening hours. There's also a Performance Space which [incomprehensible spoiler alert] totally includes dachshunds and nudity and a very shiny boat.
Welcome back, MCA. Let's hug.