$20 million gift to Sydney Modern

Visual Arts Writer

A landmark gift from a private foundation ensures that Australia's philanthropic interests rest in Sydney's cultural future.
$20 million gift to Sydney Modern

Detail of Dusk view of Sydney Modern Project, produced by Kazuyo Sejima + Ryue Nishizawa / SANAA.

It has been a big month for the Art Gallery of NSW with announcements of $244 million from the NSW Government for the Sydney Modern project, and this week another $20 million gifted by the Susan and Isaac Wakil Foundation.

‘This is the largest monetary gift in the Gallery’s 146-year history … Mr Wakil has followed the project’s progress closely, and was delighted to see SANAA’s design evolve over the past two years,’ said the Gallery in a statement.


David Gonski, Chair of the Gallery Trustees, added: ‘Susan and Isaac are two of the Gallery’s most committed and longstanding donors. I am delighted, but not surprised, by their leadership pledge. This magnificent gift is instrumental in making the expansion of the Gallery a reality.’

Read: $244 million gives Sydney Modern green light

Art Gallery of New South Wales director Michael Brand said the Gallery will recognise this philanthropic leadership by naming two prominent locations in the new building after the Wakils.

The Wakil Foundation has supported Sydney institutions including the University of Sydney, Sydney Jewish Museum, St Vincent’s Hospital, and Opera Australia. Isaac Wakil has been a supporter of the Gallery since 1969, and served on the AGNSW Foundation Board from 2001 until 2007.

‘We are delighted that the journey through the new building will begin at the Susan Wakil Pavilion. Our many visitors, especially those attending galas, membership receptions and other special events, will also be able to enjoy the grand space of the Isaac Wakil Gallery, that is central to the new building’s layout,’ said Brand. 

The Susan and Isaac Wakil Foundation's commitment of $20 million is part of the $70 million pledged to date in support of the Gallery’s expansion. The gallery is yet to disclose the source of the remaining $50 million pledged.

The capital campaign to support the project will be publicly launched later this year.

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