Dr Michael Brand
Director | Art Gallery of New South Wales
A global cultural leader and art scholar, Michael’s commitment to the arts is evident in his significant contribution to Australian and international art, architecture and gardens. His work spans art museums and academia as well as government, philanthropic and community sectors.
As director of the Art Gallery of New South Wales since 2012, Michael is leading the Gallery’s transformation through the largest expansion in its almost 150-year history. Now under construction and due for completion in late 2022, the Sydney Modern Project, designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architects SANAA, is Australia’s first art museum to achieve a 6-star Green Star sustainable design rating. Michael’s vision for a new cultural campus incorporating two art museum buildings and an 24/7 outdoor art garden is to amplify the values and ideals of the Gallery today: a public space that is open, sociable and egalitarian, a place that has a better balance than in the past of gender and diversity, and a place that is full of curiosity, reflection and dialogue, about the shared world around us.
Central to Michael’s curatorial philosophy for the Gallery is the view that the art of the past is crucial to understanding the art of our own times; that Aboriginal art is a core element of Australian art; and that contemporary Australian art should be viewed alongside international contemporary art.
Prior to returning to Australia from North America in 2012 Michael’s international directorships included the Aga Khan Museum, Toronto, the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond.
Earlier in his career, positions included assistant director, curatorial and collection development, Queensland Art Gallery and curator of Asian art, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra. From 1988 to 1993 Michael was also co-director of the Smithsonian Institution Mughal Garden Project in Lahore, Pakistan.