Tuesday to Sunday 10am-5pm
Closed Mondays and Public Holidays
Wheel chair access and wheel chair available
Large Car park and room for busses
Small conference and workshop facilities
Other services – Guided tours on request.
Steeped in history, the Federation Gothic building housing Maitland Regional Art Gallery (MRAG) is an awe inspiring example of early 1900;s architecture. In a display of exceptional judgment and forward planning, Maitland City Council (MCC) purchased the former technical college building in High Street, Maitland for $1.25 million as the core of a new Cultural Precinct for the city.
A huge undertaking, modifying the building into suitable premises for a state of the art gallery, Council ensured the heritage of the building was conserved. Thus, the significant heritage of the building was conserved and modified into a state of the art gallery premises and the new home for the former Maitland City Art Gallery. MCC proudly opened the brand new Maitland Regional Art Gallery on 7 November 2003.
The home of MRAG is an awe-inspiring example of early 1900s architecture. Designed by the then government architect, Colonel W L Vernon, the building has a structural system which is one of the earliest of its type in New South Wales. Amongst the many remarkable features of the building is the cantilevered marble staircase. The white marble treads of the stairs with grey marble supports are distinguished even further by a rare rose coloured Newell post. Lighting the staircase is an enormous art nouveau, stained glass skylight. Of undeniable heritage significance, MRAG provides a visual feast. Art and architecture work in tandem and the result is magnificent.
Entry to MRAG is free and the art gallery houses its own growing collection. Exhibitions change every 6-7 weeks include exhibition curated in house using local and national artists along with touring shows or those derived from the permanent collection.
Currently there are three distinct galleries within the complex but there are immanent plans to extend the building with the second stage with a $4.5 Million development set to begin in 2008. The second stage redevelopment of MRAG will include up to 8 gallery spaces, a history and heritage museum, Les Darcy Gallery, an artist’s studio, café, shop and workshop areas.
In line with its meteoric growth, MRAG has also begun to initiate it own touring exhibitions and host numerous education and public program events including unique art day experiences sometimes involving whole schools. The art gallery actively promotes the visual arts in other forms either through exhibition or performances or with items of ‘other’ art mediums on sale in the Gallery shop.
Such an impressive transformation sets a precedent for excellence and Maitland is now seen as a hotspot for industry development and recognized as a cultural and recreational centre not to be missed. MRAG epitomizes MCC’s commitment to its community’s cultural life.
MRAG's sits in an enviable position in a City rich in history and an ideal location for access to all the artistic delights of the Hunter Valley. Maitland is positioned within the tourism area referred to as Hunter River Country which stretches from Newcastle on the coast to Singleton and the upper Hunter Valley in the west, the Barrington Tops in the north to Wine Country and the Watagan mountains in the south.
In the Maitland LGA and surrounding districts there is so much to do in the countryside, on and around the rivers, in the mountains, in the vineyards and historic villages. Along the way there’s farm fresh produce, cellar door tastings, award winning restaurants and many local art galleries to visit in the surrounding area.
Only 2 hours from Sydney, 30 minutes from Newcastle, Maitland offers a truly refreshing and pleasurable stay.
MRAG is located in High Street at the eastern end of Maitland's City Centre adjoining the New England Highway (Les Darcy Drive) and High Street. MRAG welcomes visitors to the region and is also a valuable resource for local residents.
The collection Background
MRAG was established as Maitland City Art Gallery in 1972. Maitland City Art Gallery relocated in November 2003 to its present location and became known as MRAG. Within six months of the move MCC appointed a new Director Joseph Eisenberg OAM. With a new found direction and momentum MRAG embarked on a major reinvention of itself incorporating major inititives leading towards the second stage development and the birth of a true Cultural Precint for the City of Maitland. The first of these initiatives was to impliment a relevant collections policy and to do this a significance report was required relating to the art collection housed at MRAG.
The MRAG art collection emerged out of a local art prize which began in the 1950’s. Throughout its history and until 2005 the collection had grown to some 600 paintings, drawing and other works on paper along with a number of sculptures and 3D work. With no collection policy in place the collection evolved with no real focus.
In 2004 (for 2005) MRAG successfully applied to the then NSW Ministry for the Arts, as a strategic initiative, for funds to assist in a review of the art collection housed at MRAG. The aim of the project was to employ a team of consultants with a view to re-evaluate the MRAG collection and provide a comprehensive significance and assesment report. The team which the art gallery assembled to complete the assessment was the most appropriate to carry out the task and presented sound written reports which were collated with a final report being presented and by MRAG and MCC.
The outcome of the project allowed an integral component of the art gallery, the MRAG art collection, to be in a position of influence, to direct and drive the future planning of the cultural precinct in Maitland. The MRAG art collection will now indicate how the exhibition spaces are allocated and utilized, with MRAG now having a new direction and a new collection policy implemented by means of a new focus of collecting works on paper.