National

New NGA director: ‘watch this space’

By AAP Newswire

When Nick Mitzevich first visited the National Gallery of Australia he was an art student blown away by paintings he'd only ever seen in books.

In July, the director of the Art Gallery of South Australia becomes the new head of the national institution.

"I remember standing in front of Blue Poles and the Andy Warhols and the extraordinary Australian collection and thinking that I'd only seen these pictures in books and to see them on the walls of our gallery was pretty extraordinary," he told reporters in Canberra on Tuesday.

"Now I'll be the custodian of these works and to work to share them with the nation is a pretty amazing honour."

Mr Mitzevich, who originally trained as a teacher, wants to prioritise learning and art education in his new role.

He believes there are great opportunities to expand the reach of the gallery across the country.

"My job will be to make sure the building behind me is bursting at the seams to give us a reason (to expand) and also to make sure that regardless of geographical isolation people can be a part of the NGA," he said.

Gerard Vaughan's successor welcomes a recently established parliamentary inquiry into the resources of the capital's institutions following years of budget cuts.

"It means that we can demonstrate the important impact we make on Australian cultural life," he said.

Mr Mitzevich insists money follows good ideas and said galleries need to look beyond government funding to private and company dollars.

After blockbusters such as Versailles: Treasures from the Palace and the current Cartier exhibition, the new director has some ideas for other major exhibitions.

"I'm looking forward to working with my colleagues here to make sure that we continue to make sure Canberra is an important place to visit," he said.

"Watch this space. We've got big things up our sleeves."

Dr Vaughan is stepping down after four years at the helm.

Communications Minister Mitch Fifield thanked him for bringing a renewed focus to Australian works held in the collection and delivering high-quality programs which he said have inspired audiences.