Time Out Sydney

Once the administration offices of the Maritime Services Board, this waterside museum was overhauled head to toe (well, almost) in 2011 and re-opened in March 2012 with light, airy, uncluttered interiors, more floor space and a boxy new facade. It's not just good looks, either: the rooftop café and sculpture terrace, high-tech education centre, and 120-seat lecture theatrette and forecourt are all worth checking out.

And the original sandstone heart is still there. “We wanted to keep the old building but provide something next to it that says immediately that this is a contemporary building,” says MCA Director Elizabeth Ann Macgregor OBE.

Inside, the galleries themselves are clean, logical and open – with long vistas to entice and draw you in further. While the design of the exterior is about drawing attention, the opposite is the case for the interior. “The most important thing is the art,” says architect Sam Marshall. “In the perfect gallery there would be no architecture visible. For most of the MCA’s exhibitions they install walls, change colours and put different surfaces in. That requires a really simple space with a really simple circulation system.”

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Updated on 6 Aug 2015.

By Darryn King   |   Photos by Brett Boardman

Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) details

140 George St, The Rocks 2000

Telephone 02 9245 2400

Price FREE

Open Mon-Wed & Fri-Sun 10am-5pm; Thu 10am-9pm

Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) website

Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) map

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