The dream of a public art gallery for Cairns began to take shape in 1979 and over the next 15 years it took the tenacious commitment of Cairns Mayors, Councillors, State Ministers, as well as artists and members of the community to raise over $2 million to repurpose the historic Public Curators Building into an award winning Gallery that was officially opened on 15 July 1995, and now comprises 3 floors of elegantly proportioned gallery spaces.
The building was originally designed by the government architect, R.C. Nowland, and construction commenced in 1934. On completion in 1936, various government departments occupied and modified it until its conversion to an art gallery in 1994. During the renovation, many of the original historical elements were retained, including the original terrazzo floor, polished local timber wall panelling, stained glass windows and iron balustrades. Today the Gallery is an elegant fusion of contemporary and heritage, offering international museum standard lighting, security and climate controls.
The Cairns Art Gallery is an independent not-for-profit company managed by a Board of Directors. The local Council contributes approx. 55-60% of the Gallery’s annual operating costs, with the remaining costs raised through Gallery commercial activities, sponsorships and donations.
The Gallery programs supports its commitment to present art of national and international significance and enable cross cultural dialogues and the interpretation of the unique history and living cultures of Far North Queensland (FNQ), and our place in the world’s tropic zone.