Museum of Contemporary Art, Australia

The Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA Australia) presents, collects and engages with the art of our time. Located on Sydney Harbour (Warrane) at Tallawoladah, a home to stories, art and culture for over 65,000 years, The Museum’s collection of over 4,700 artworks is the only public collection in Australia dedicated to the work of living artists, with over a third represented by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists. It engages audiences with contemporary art and ideas through the presentation of a diverse program of exhibitions, events, creative learning and access programs.

In May 2024, the Foundation and the MCA Australia announced a landmark public sculpture commission series for the Tallawoladah Lawn on the foreshores of Warrane, Sydney Harbour at Circular Quay, in honour of Neil Balnaves AO.

Paying tribute to Neil’s vision and philanthropic commitment to the arts in Australia, the first Neil Balnaves Tallawoladah Lawn Commission will launch in spring 2025.

Image: Victoria, Hamish and Diane Balnaves with MCA Director Suzanne Cotter standing on the Tallawoladah Lawn in front of the MCA. Credit: Cassandra Hannagan

The Neil Balnaves Tallawoladah Lawn Commission will present a large-scale sculptural work from a leading Australian or international contemporary artist from spring through to autumn each year from 2025-2028; creating memorable encounters with the best contemporary art and ideas for millions of Australians and visitors.

Hamish Balnaves, CEO, The Balnaves Foundation said, “The Balnaves family is thrilled to partner with the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia on this exciting project to bring large public artworks to Sydney.

This public sculpture commission series, in memory of my father Neil Balnaves, is a wonderful tribute celebrating his life, legacy and passion for public art.

Neil was a passionate and vocal advocate of the arts and making art accessible to all. Millions of Sydneysiders and visitors from around the country and overseas will be able to enjoy these significant new works. The Tallawoladah Lawn, outside the MCA and on the doorstep of Sydney is the perfect location and we are excited to see what the series will bring.”

The Balnaves Foundation has had a longstanding partnership with MCA Australia having previously supported GENEXT from 2007 – 2019 and Family programs from 2020 -2024.

Since 2020 the Foundation has been the Principal Patron for the MCA Family programs; art-filled activities designed to encourage children aged 0–12 to create, grow and feel inspired. Both the Foundation and the MCA are passionate about inspiring the next generation through genuine Australian themes and perspectives, in particular ensuring the centrality of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Arts & Cultures.

Artplay is specifically designed for children under 5 years of age, along with their parents or carers. This program aims to provide social and creative networks for young families, with sessions running for 2 hours on varying days of the week, making it accessible to all.

The School Holiday program is designed for families with children aged 5 – 12+ and takes place over one week every school holidays, with participants supported by MCA Artist Educators throughout engaging and dynamic creative workshops which usually respond to the MCA’s current exhibition.

From 2005 to 2019, The Balnaves Foundation supported the MCA to develop and grow a program that introduced teenagers to the world of contemporary art, Generation Next or ‘GENEXT’. The Genext program comprises of free festival-style events designed for teenagers by a youth committee, to connect and engage teens in current conversations in contemporary art and culture. Since inception GENEXT has continued to evolve and is now an annual free art festival-style museum takeover event for young people 12–18 years.

Find out more about Museum of Contemporary Art Family programs here.

Find out more about Museum of Contemporary Art, Australia here.