Sharing the National Collection: iconic NGA sculpture heading to Nowra

A towering outdoor sculpture by American artist Barnett Newman will be transported from Canberra to the Shoalhaven Regional Gallery in Nowra, New South Wales – its new home for five years from February 2024.

The seven-metre, three-and-a-half tonne sculpture titled Broken obelisk is the latest major loan announced by the Albanese Labor Government under its Sharing the National Collection program.

The well-known, gravity-defying work is considered a masterpiece of human engineering and artistic innovation and is one of four versions in existence. It currently takes pride of place in the forecourt of the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra.

Minister for the Arts, Tony Burke, said the loan exemplified the spirit of Sharing the National Collection.

“Most of the pieces involved in Sharing the National Collection are works that were otherwise being held in storage – but not this one.

“The Shoalhaven Regional Gallery will have the distinction of displaying the work that has been in pride of place at the front of the National Gallery of Australia for years.”

Member for Gilmore, Fiona Phillips said Nowra was the perfect choice for Sharing the National Collection.

“I am so proud to see Nowra selected for one of the first loans under this fantastic Australian Government program that helps share our nation’s artwork into the regions.

“Being able to engage with and enjoy iconic art pieces such as this right in our own backyard is something every Australian should get to experience, and I am really delighted that we have that opportunity.

“Not only this, but I am sure it will bring people from across the coast and beyond into the Shoalhaven to enjoy all our amazing region has to offer. I really encourage local people and tourists alike to get behind this exhibit and spend some time at our beautiful Shoalhaven Regional Gallery.”

Sharing the National Collection is part of Revive, Australia’s new national cultural policy, with $11.8m over four years to fund the costs of transporting, installing and insuring works in the national art collection so that they can be seen across the country for extended periods.

Director of the National Gallery of Australia, Dr Nick Mitzevich, said he is thrilled to share this statement work by Barnett Newman with new audiences.

“The gift by The Barnett Newman Foundation of Broken obelisk to the National Gallery provided the national collection with one of its most distinctive examples of twentieth century American art.

“I am very proud that this masterwork is one of the inaugural loans under the Sharing the National Collection initiative.

“This loan provides another opportunity for the National Gallery to celebrate the dynamic breadth of the collection while creating a new chapter in the story of this sculpture, which, like others from the edition, is displayed in a range of diverse locations.”

"I believe that art has the power to inspire, unite, and transform communities,” said Mayor of Shoalhaven City Council, Amanda Findley. 

Broken obelisk is a shining example of this, and we're honoured to be part of this exceptional initiative.

“Displaying Broken obelisk on the Shoalhaven Regional Gallery forecourt provides an opportunity for the community to engage with this exceptional piece, fostering a deeper appreciation for art and culture.”

The work can be viewed via the National Gallery’s website

Regional and suburban galleries can register their expressions of interest via this link.