Museum of Contemporary Art Australia. Photo © Brett Boardman

Museum of Contemporary Art Australia 2018

Sunday 4 November

140 George Street, The Rocks

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William Henry Withers, followed by W D H Baxter, Maritime Services Board

Additional architects

1990 Andrew Andersons, Peddle Thorp/John Holland Interiors

2012 Sam Marshall, Architect Marshall – redevelopment and addition of Mordant Wing


2013 Public Architecture Commendation – AIA (NSW)

2013 Best Signage - Agenda International Design & Communication Awards

The Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) at Circular Quay occupies a site unique in Australia’s cultural history. Originally home to the Gadigal people, it sits on the landing point for the First Fleet, and is one of the sites of first contact between Indigenous and European peoples.

The site’s built history is a constantly evolving, sometimes controversial one. From 1812 it was home to the vital Commissariat Stores, which were demolished in the 1930s – despite much public outcry – to make way for the monumental Maritime Services Board building. Design commenced in 1939 but construction was not completed until 1952, and this H-shaped office block, variously described as Art Deco and stripped classical, was also immediately deemed outdated.

Its materials echo the nearby, earlier Circular Quay Railway Station (exterior brick walls faced with yellow sandstone and detailed with polished granite), and the building’s decoration is largely contained in bas-relief panels on the central tower and foyer marble.

In 1984 the building was bequeathed to Sydney University. It was refurbished and opened as the MCA in 1991, and quickly earned a reputation as one of the city’s best museums.

Following this success, a series of hotly debated international architecture competitions were held to redevelop the space, before the appointment of local architect Sam Marshall, in partnership with the NSW Government Architect’s Office.

In 2012 the new Mordant Wing opened. Marshall says he saw the original building as a series of symmetrically arranged box forms, while the new wing would be a series of boxes arranged asymmetrically. The new wing includes the new National Centre for Creative Learning, complete with multimedia and digital studios and a 117-seat lecture theatre.

On Sunday 4 November

What’s open?

Levels 1 and 2 galleries, foyers, MCA Cafe & Sculpture Terrace. Level 3 Galleries are open with purchase of tickets to the David Goldblatt exhibition.

Talks, tours & more


Art & Architecture at the MCA. How do contemporary artists consider architecture when creating new site-specific commissions? Take part in a behind-the-scenes tour led by an MCA Artist Educator that will explore the many ways in which artists experiment with ideas of architecture and space. Meet in the foyer, level 1.

45 mins

Member offer: 

Our friends at the Museum of Contemporary Art are offering 2-for-1 on tickets to David Goldblatt: Photographs 1948-2018. Simply present your Sydney Open Member Pass at the ticketing desk to claim. This offer is only available on Sunday 4 November.


to know

  • Photography allowed

  • Toilets available

  • Food & drink available

  • Pram friendly

  • Accessible

  • Additional information
    Please note, the MCA is open to the public 10am to 5pm every day (apart from Christmas Day).

Opening hours

10am – 5pm

Last entry



140 George Street, The Rocks

Entry via

Circular Quay and George Street


Find out more about the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia.