Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Archibald Prize draws Gallery’s biggest crowds to date

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Tweed Regional Gallery. Archibald sunset session 2021 Source: Tweed Shire Council

Tweed Shire Council, Media Release, 16 March 2021

Sidney Nolan’s famous Ned Kelly series up next

After hosting their largest exhibition on record, the 2020 Archibald Prize Regional Tour, the team at Tweed Regional Gallery & Margaret Olley Art Centre is jumping straight into the next big exhibition, Sidney Nolan’s iconic Ned Kelly series.

The 2020 Archibald Prize Regional Tour opened at the Gallery on 22 January 2021. At the time, the team thought the initial numbers coming through the doors were big, but by the final weeks of the exhibition, visitor numbers had quadrupled. 

Over the course of seven weeks, the figures grew steadily and when the doors finally closed on the exhibition, the Gallery had welcomed a total of 37,872 visitors.

The exhibition was open to the public for 33 days, averaging 1147 visitors per day. The most popular day was Sunday 28 February when 1617 people came through the Gallery. 

Gallery Director Susi Muddiman OAM said the feedback from visitors was overwhelmingly positive. Even with the queues, visitors raved that it was worth the wait. 

“I am immensely proud of my staff here, who all worked so hard to deliver the best possible visitor experience to all those people – with the added strain of COVID Safe conditions to deal with,” Ms Muddiman said. 

“We couldn’t possibly have done it without our volunteers and all the assistance from Council throughout this mammoth exhibition period.”

Ms Muddiman said she was also thrilled that Murwillumbah benefitted from the Gallery’s hosting of the show.

“It has been genuinely uplifting to hear from business owners and tourism operators in our region of the upsurge in trading for their businesses. Likewise, the many compliments we received in writing and in person from so many excited and happy visitors made it all so worth it,” she said.

Visitors to the exhibition at Tweed Regional Gallery also had the opportunity to vote for their favourite work as part of the People’s Choice Award, which was won by Lennox Head-based artist Angus McDonald for his portrait of Behrouz Boochani. The People’s Choice was sponsored by ANZ, awarding a $500 cash prize to a Gold Coast visitor who entered a vote.

However, there’s hardly any time to reflect on the success of the 2020 Archibald Prize Regional Tour as the Gallery prepares to host another major exhibition, the Ned Kelly series by Sidney Nolan, on tour from the National Gallery of Australia, opening on Friday 19 March and continuing until 22 August 2021. 

“Sidney Nolan’s 1946-47 paintings on the theme of the bushranger Ned Kelly are one of the greatest and most recognisable series of 20th Century Australian paintings and we know this will again bring people into the region,” Ms Muddiman said. 

For information and ticket details, visit


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