The National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) in Melbourne, Australia, has received a donation of A$100 million (US $74 million) earmarked for the construction of a new building to showcase its collection of contemporary art. The money was supplied by Lindsay Fox, a former truck driver who grew a one-vehicle operation into a multibillion-dollar transport company, and his wife, Paula, an NGV foundation board member, and represents the largest gift to an Australian cultural institution by a living donor. The funding supplements $1.7 billion funneled into the Southbank arts precinct by the state government of Victoria and $20 million provided for the contemporary initiative by the Ian Potter Foundation in 2020.
Fox, who announced the historic donation on his eighty-fifth birthday, told local television station 9News that he had made the gift at his wife’s behest. “How could I say no after being married sixty-two years?” he asked. According to The Guardian, the Foxes have been regular donors to the institution, which itself has long relied on public funding, notably receiving half the considerable wealth of pharmacist Alfred Felton on his death in 1904. Though the donation arrived with no strings attached, the gallery will be known as The Fox: NGV Contemporary. NGV director Tony Ellwood told the publication that the name was “bestowed by the government and the gallery” in recognition of the Foxes’ generosity.
The new gallery will be situated behind the NGV International and will comprise 43,000 square feet of exhibition space, including a 130-foot-high circular hall. Construction of the building, designed by Australian architecture firm Angelo Candalepas and Associates, will begin later this year and is slated to conclude in 2028. NGV officials expect the space to attract some one million visitors annually; the government has estimated that the project will generate eleven thousand affiliated jobs while it is underway, with more to come on its opening.