Shepparton, Victoria: A new landmark cultural destination, Shepparton Art Museum (SAM) designed by internationally renowned architects Denton Corker Marshall will open to the public on 20 November 2021. The design was unanimously selected from an architectural competition in 2017 and endorsed by Greater Shepparton City Council. The regional art museum designed by Denton Corker Marshall joins the practice’s impressive cultural portfolio which includes the Australian Pavilion in Venice, the Melbourne Museum, the Stonehenge Exhibition and Visitors Centre, and the Museum of Sydney. 

John Denton, Founding Director, Denton Corker Marshall said “The Shepparton Art Museum was a great competition to win as it represents such an important cultural contribution to a regional city like Shepparton. Sitting between the lake and the main road into town from Melbourne it presents a strikingly bold signal – a new contemporary building added to the fabric of the city.” 

Rebecca Coates, Artistic Director & CEO, Shepparton Art Museum said of the design, “The building is about hope and aspiration, with a range of welcoming spaces and places designed to invite all members of the public to meet, enjoy, and call their own through arts and culture. There’s a play of theatre, performance and comfortable reflection with natural light and views to the landscape connecting people to context and landscape.”

Designed to act as a ‘live’ building where every surface presents an opportunity for display, event or installation, the new art museum is characterised by simplicity and clarity of materials and form and includes an art museum housing over 4,000 artworks, four main gallery spaces including a dedicated Kids Space and Workshops; Visitors’ Information Centre; Kaiela Arts Aboriginal community arts centre; an outdoor amphitheatre and Art Hill; and cafe and 150-person event space and terrace, all within an 5,300m2 cubic building. 

With a restricted ground floor footprint due to a floodway across the site, the building is extruded vertically over five levels to generate the distinctive small-and-tall art museum with panoramic views across the surrounding lake and Goulburn Red River Gum forest. 

Conceived as a ‘land sculpture’ nestled into the surrounding landscape, as the tallest building in Shepparton, it acts as a beacon in the low, flat Shepparton topography. The external façade of SAM comprises four thin floating perforated L-shaped plates suspended in the landscape whose form references the overhang of traditional Australian verandas that offer shade and shelter. Three of the plates comprise powder-coated aluminium with the southern approach incorporating an integrated Visitor’s Centre super graphic and the entry to SAM on Wyndham Street featuring a cut out offering a tantalising glimpse of the interior. The rich ochre-red corten steel of the fourth plate faces the lake and river plain. 

From a distance, the plates give virtually no indication of interior life and waits to be discovered and explored. At their base, they float seemingly unsupported over an open, visibly accessible and highly activated ground plane. Each plate is simultaneously an object in its own right and an integral part of the whole. The plates group together, at different heights and contrasting materiality, to form a cube composition at a scale comparable to the surrounding red river gums. Each facade plate becomes a canvas, layered into the treed landscape of dappled light and shade with the ability to transform as a base for temporary installations or projection imagery.

The design is integrated into the park via a dramatic Art Hill, screening all building services, back-of-house and loading under the expanded parkland. The Art Hill creates an upper ground level, enabling the museum cafe to enjoy an elevated outlook whilst being directly connected to, and accessible from, the park.

Internally, the transparent and accessible museum experience is centred around an open, circulation galleria with four different galleries, totalling 800m2, accommodated across four floors including two major AA rated exhibition spaces which can accommodate exhibitions and loans of international significance. The gallery spaces include The Lin Onus Gallery, People’s Gallery, Williamson Community Space, SAM Kids Space, the Bill Kelly Peace Room designed as a collection viewing space, and Showcases at the entrance to SAM and across each floor featuring new commissions and SAM’s ceramics collection. The interior design – the interconnected multi-level spaces, materials, texture, with intuitive wayfinding by Studio Ongarato – are overlaid with contrasts of drama, reflection, outlook, information and discovery, all which are conceived as integral elements of the museum experience.

Situated in regional Victoria around two hours’ drive north from Melbourne, SAM is located on the lands of the Yorta Yorta peoples, on the shore of Victoria Park Lake, Shepparton. The new building was funded by Local Council, State and Federal funding, and private philanthropic and community support through the SAM Foundation. SAM’s design was brought to fruition by builders Kane Constructions; engineers Arup, building surveyors Steve Watson & Partners, landscape architects Urban Initiatives, with signage & wayfinding by Studio Ongarato, who all worked closely with Denton Corker Marshall and Greater Shepparton City Council.


MEDIA CONTACTS: To request interviews, further information or imagery please contact Articulate: Kate Atkinson, kate@articulatepr.com.au, 0466 182 681 or Rhiannon Broomfield, rhiannon@articulatepr.com.au 0410 596 021. 

MEDIA IMAGES: Images can be viewed and downloaded from the following link: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/7f0t1tyc9g5fl63/AAAvfLfcc1copM5YM1IYTBX7a?dl=0 

ABOUT SAM: Shepparton Art Museum (SAM) is one of Australia’s outstanding regional art museums, showcasing our exhibitions and collections in new and exciting ways and creating a welcoming, inclusive and engaging space for all audiences. Artists are central to our work. Our programming is designed to be locally relevant and engage with global contemporary ideas. SAM is recognised for its significant Australian ceramics collection, and our nationally significant collection of Indigenous art. As the only public art museum in Greater Shepparton and north central Victoria, our mission is to present great art in Shepparton, and to contribute to the cultural enrichment, community engagement and economic prosperity of the region. https://sheppartonartmuseum.com.au/ 

ABOUT DENTON CORKER MARSHALL: Denton Corker Marshall is recognised as one of Australia’s most celebrated design practices. Known internationally as design leaders, we produce distinctive, innovative and functionally excellent architecture and urban design across Australia, Europe and Asia. We create public buildings that integrate with their many and varied physical and cultural contexts, engaging at a human scale. All our designs have compelling narratives that underpin the visitor experience: the solutions embody planning and design philosophies that recognise the site’s inherent value and build its unique qualities into the visitor experience. Our cultural buildings are outstanding, award winning design projects – exciting and contemporary, but ageless. Buildings the whole community can understand and be proud of, that engage with their surroundings through carefully integrated landscaping, yet standing strong as landmarks. https://www.dentoncorkermarshall.com/