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Art Gallery WA Media Release
Nalini Malani, The Sacred and the Profane

Big ideas revealed through
small spaces

AGWA unveils new engagement strategy
Guru Robot integral to new Imagination Program

New Spaces Now Open | FREE

At an exclusive evening "Winter Reveal" event on May 18, AGWA Director Stefano Carboni revealed the next phase of the Art Gallery of WA's evolution which sees the opening of five new spaces - the Wesfarmers Micro Galleries, Nano Galleries and Rise Sound Gallery, along with two new public areas - the Imagination Room and the Stratosphere.

The Gallery also revealed a new brand identity for the institution, new digital content offerings and virtual reality experience, supported by refreshed public and guided tour programs. In a surprising evolution for the Gallery, guests were also introduced to Aggie the engagement robot who will act as a Gallery Guide and run children's workshops. The Director also announced a new café, Arthouse Dine, will open in June.

AGWA Director Stefano Carboni said the 'Winter Reveal' was the culmination of months of work at the Gallery, and the next phase in AGWA's invitation for people to see things differently.

"In 2016, the Art Gallery of WA embarked on a new direction, inviting audiences to see things differently. This call-to-arms applied not only to viewing the world anew through art but also to how people engaged and viewed their State Art Gallery," Carboni said.

"The creation of the Sky and Garden Micro Galleries and the conceptual idea of big art in small spaces is a strong analogy of the Gallery's philosophy moving forward," he continued. "We are a small team at the Gallery, but we have bold ideas and a shared passion to make the Gallery a pre-eminent destination for Western Australians and visitors to our State."

"We've listened to our peers, the public, our strongest supporters and critics, and developed a clear vision for the State Art Gallery. The next step was to bring it to life for our visitors. This can only be achieved through the combination of a dynamic exhibition program, new spaces and public events to engage visitors, underpinned by a strong visual identity that better reflects the Gallery's new outlook."

Guests at the VIP event were also treated to a viewing of the Gallery's latest exhibition Sacred and Profane which features three large-scale works by renowned international artists. Public Notice 2 2007 by Jitish Kallat, Chinese Bible 2009 by Yang Zhichao and The sacred and the profane 1998 by Nalini Malani - this last work proudly part of the State Art Collection -  weave together the detailed and personal, the sacred and profane, into breathtaking pieces that inspire immediate awe through their sheer scale.

Audience engagement – tomorrow’s audiences today

Audience engagement is a priority focus for AGWA and the organisation’s new Director of Engagement, Chris Travers, is relaunching the brand and introducing some new and significantly improved approaches to involving audiences in the Gallery in enticing, rewarding and innovative ways.

“Imagination has been the key word in developing a new engagement strategy, offering new pathways to discover the Gallery. We have created a new exciting space, the Imagination Room and a series of innovations including our new engagement robot ‘Aggie’ who will walk visitors round the gallery. We have an AGWA TV service and two Nano galleries for immersions. WA has a unique attitude to art and we wanted a distinctive approach combining technology in new and fun ways with a heartfelt focus on personal and expert interpretation. That’s why our relaunched Gallery Guides as Guru Guides are at the heart of what we offer – there is nothing like a personal interaction to spark the imagination – even if it’s with a robot!" said Chris.

New offers include:

  • Aggie – the world’s first art gallery engagement robot who will complement the human gallery guides with robotic tours and other activities aimed at families
  • AGWA TV, a series of mini documentary features in two content areas Artist TV and Curator TV
  • The Imagination Room – a new club hub, activity centre and education space for everyone, and the home of the new Imagination Program
  • The pod-sized Nano Galleries where TV and interactive technology will help audiences surf the collection and go deeper
  • The Atmosphere VR experience – the start of AGWA’s virtual sculpture garden
  • The overhaul of the much-loved 39-year old Gallery Voluntary Guide program, relaunched as Guru Guides complete with pre-flight video in a new Stratosphere departure lounge and tailored tours for both time-poor culture vultures and deep divers looking for extended enrichment.

About the new spaces, and experiences

Micro Galleries: Garden and Sky Galleries

The Micro Galleries are two new spaces showcasing large works from the prestigious Wesfarmers Collection. The contrast between the giant works and the smaller dimensions of the Micro Galleries creates an exciting dynamic for visitors to AGWA. The opening displays begin with a conversation between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal artists, and include works such as Brook Andrew’s Australia 1 2013, William Delafield’s A Haystack 1983, and Richard Bells’ Omega (Bell’s Theorem) 2013.

The opening of the Micro Galleries was made possible through the generous support of Wesfarmers Arts, principal sponsor of Art Gallery of WA. Helen Carroll, Curator of the Wesfarmers Collection said she was pleased to see works from the Wesfarmers Collection on display in the State Art Gallery.

"The Wesfarmers Collection was established on the principle that the artworks would always be accessible to the public. I am delighted that through our long-standing partnership with the Art Gallery of WA, Wesfarmers Arts has enabled the Gallery to extend its gallery spaces and we can more widely share Australian works from the Wesfarmers Collection, such as Bell's Omega (Bell’s Theorem)."

Rise Sound Gallery

Rise is AGWA's first sound gallery - built into an atmospheric vertical space connecting the two Micro Galleries. Visitors can journey up or down the multi-channel soundscape for an unforgettable encounter with sonic creativity. Mei Saraswati has created a 5-channel piece, Swamp Gospel, based on the idea of a slice of vertical nature from underwater to the sky, loosely inspired by the wetlands which was originally on the Gallery site.

The Nano Galleries

The two new Nano Galleries are tardis-like spaces which offer small groups intimate multi-media experiences, providing a chance to learn more about AGWA's exhibitions. Located within the Micro Galleries, the Nanos include digital briefing pods which allow AGWA Curators to reveal exhibition insights through short videos.

Aggie - the world’s first Art Gallery Engagement Robot

AGWA is launching a new public engagement program including a robot guide ‘Aggie’ the world’s first art gallery engagement robot. Developed with Perth-based technology firm Smartbots, Aggie is a walking talking art expert who brings the works in the gallery to life with enchanting insights and childlike wonder. Aimed specifically at families, Aggie will lead a monthly tour around the collection and also host workshops for children in the new Imagination Room.

The Imagination Room

The Imagination Room is a multi-purpose space offering visitors a range of opportunities to explore and discuss AGWA's lively programs. Featuring a stunning mural about the very process of creativity by US artist Ron Regé Jr, this is a place to engage with AGWA's artistic manifesto See Things Differently. The evolving program will include artists ‘In Conversation’, workshops based on current exhibitions, debates on topical cultural issues, artist networking events in association with Artsource, video hook-ups with cultural travellers here and abroad, plus a place to catch up with AGWA TV. Families and children will be excited by a regular program of workshops and special events, including Aggie the latest Guru Guide.

Imagination Room
Imagination Room


As part of a dedicated digital content strategy, AGWA has introduced two new content streams called Curator TV and Artist TV. Hear from AGWA Curator Robert Cook on his current exhibition Comic Tragics: the exploding language of contemporary comic art, AGWA Curator Melissa Harpley on the upcoming historical exhibition Unknown Land: Mapping and Imagining Western Australia and AGWA Curator Dunja Rmandić on the Wesfarmers Micro Galleries.

Guru Guides

AGWA's Voluntary Gallery Guides have taken up AGWA's call-to-arms to see the world differently, creating a new program of guided tours that run from short Art Snacks (lunch time tours) to immersive thematic explorations of special exhibitions, and key areas of interest within the State Art Collection such as Indigenous art, and Western Australian art.

The Stratosphere

Located at the top of the building the Stratosphere is a new point of departure for special guided tours by AGWA's Guru Guides, passionate volunteers who bring AGWA’s collection to life with informative and entertaining free tours, now bookable in advance. This lounge is a dramatic setting from which to survey the many galleries that await visitors.

Atmosphere AGWA’s Virtual Reality Sculpture Gallery

This new initiative will give venue visitors in the new Stratosphere lounge and online audiences the chance to view in 3D part of AGWA’s sculpture collection including those not currently on public display. The first virtual sculpture will be launched in May with a series to follow over the next year. This project is part of a wide ranging technology partnership with WA tech experts Smartbots.

Arthouse Dine - Opening mid June 2016

Arthouse Dine is AGWA’s lively addition to the buzzing Northbridge scene, brought to you by the team behind The Standard, Halford and Saint Larry. Arthouse Dine will be an edgy and bright, yet accessible modern bistro serving traditional food with a contemporary twist. Open early for fresh breakfasts, the all-day menu will feature sensational WA fresh produce, along with good coffee, a distinguished wine list and signature cocktails. Open for coffee, breakfast and lunch seven days, and dinner or drinks Thurs to Sat.

Essence of AGWA

Featuring 12 renowned works from the WA State Art Collection, this beautiful new card collection is a great souvenir of the State Art Gallery and the perfect gift. Taking AGWA’s mantra of seeing things differently, the card set has been curated as pairs, by AGWA Curator of Historical Art Melissa Harpley, showing very different treatments of classic genres including still life, the nude and Australian landscape.

AGWA Brand Identity

Designed by award-winning creative agency 303MullenLowe, AGWA's new visual identity was developed to reflect the institution's drive and forward direction. The primary colours of orange and blue were chosen for their connection to the WA landscape, and to convey a sense of welcoming, creative energy. The negative space of the logo reflects the idea of art, and the Gallery, as a portal into seeing things differently.

Mapping and Imagining Western Australia

Tickets for the Gallery’s upcoming exhibition are now on sale. This exhibition explores the first documented visual record of European contact with Terra Australis Incognita (‘the unknown land of the South’) occurred along the western coast of Australia in the seventeenth century. Over the next three hundred years a vast array of images of the new land were made, including coastal views, landscapes, and detailed pictures of the flora and fauna, all of which feature in this exhibition.

The exhibition opens Saturday 17 September | Adult $12 | Concession/Student $8
Children 5-17 $5 | Under 4 free


Further information

For more information, interviews and imagery please contact Tanya Sticca on 9492 6692 or email

Annual Sponsors

Principal Partner

Wesfarmers logo

303 MullenLowe, Singapore Airlines, Audi, Smartbots, Alex Hotel, Juniper Estate, Gage Roads Brewing Co.

Nalini Malani The sacred and the profane 1998. Synthetic polymer paint on Mylar, steel, nylon cord, electric motors, lights and hardware, 300 x 500 x 1100 cm (overall installation). State Art Collection, Art Gallery of Western Australia. Purchased 2001. Ben Quilty Pacific self portrait 2014. Oil on canvas, 190 x 240 cm. Wesfarmers Collection, Perth. © Ben Quilty, reproduced courtesy of the artist. Richard Bell Omega (Bell's Theorem) 2013. Acrylic on linen, two parts: 180 x 480 cm (overall). Wesfarmers Collection, Perth. © Richard Bell, reproduced courtesy of the artist. Ron Regé Jr. Imagination Room doorway design 2016. Medium ink on bristol board, 35 x 43cm. Commissioned by the Art Gallery of Western Australia, 2016. © Ron Regé Jr. Ron Regé Jr. Imagination Room mural design 2016. Medium ink on bristol board, 35 x 43cm. Commissioned by the Art Gallery of Western Australia, 2016. © Ron Regé Jr. Frederick Garling View across the coastal plain 1827. Watercolour and pencil, 13.2 x 37.5 cm. State Art Collection, Art Gallery of Western Australia. Purchased 1978.

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