Rockhampton Museum of Art Takes Prestigious National Award

Published on 02 November 2023

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The Rockhampton Museum of Art (RMOA) has been awarded the prestigious 2023 Sir Zelman Cowen Award for Public Architecture.

The award named after Australia’s former Governor-General was revealed at the 2023 National Architecture Awards in Canberra this week.

The Rockhampton Museum of Art - designed by Conrad Gargett, Clare Design (Lead Design Architects) and Brian Hooper Architect - was recognised for its ability to create a vibrant cultural hub and community space that brings art and people together.

Rockhampton Regional Council Mayor, Cr Tony Williams, said the Rockhampton Museum of Art had quickly become a fixture of the city’s iconic building landscape and an important attraction for the region.

“We are incredibly proud to see the building awarded this prestigious prize,” Mayor Williams said.

“The Rockhampton Museum of Art is not simply a gallery or community meeting place or visitor attraction. It is all of those things and more – it is a focal part of our Rockhampton community.

“It is an integral part of our city and region and something that is always a talking point with visitors and locals alike.

“I want to acknowledge the architects Conrad Gargett, Clare Design and Brian Hooper Architect for their tremendous work in creating a truly special place.”

Australian Institute of Architects’ Chair for Juries, Paul Jones, who adjudicated on the project during the Queensland preliminary stages praised the world-class design standards of the building.

“The architects' expertise in designing significant cultural institutions shines through in this project,” Mr Jones said.

“The execution of galleries and back-of-house facilities demonstrates their commitment to performance and serviceability.

This museum is meticulously designed, ensuring an international standard facility."

National Jury chair and former Australian Institute of Architects president, Shannon Battisson, said the award-winning projects can be used as a source of inspiration for Australians during a time of environmental and economic crisis and recognised the significant number of entrants from regional Australia.

“The jury felt the importance of celebrating good architecture across the breadth of Australia, Ms Battisson said.

“Building in the regions has a different set of complexities to building in metropolitan areas – the constraints and opportunities are different.

“This year, the jury made a concerted effort to visit regional projects and hear the stories of architects and their clients creating amazing projects against the odds of distance, tight budgets, material and labour shortages as a result of the pandemic, and political uncertainty.

“The assumption that regional projects are easier to design and execute is false. They contain their own unique set of intricacies.”

The Sir Zelman Cowen Award for Public Architecture is widely recognised as Australia's leading award for public buildings while the National Architecture Awards recognise the pinnacle in architectural design of private homes, community building and commercial spaces.

The Rockhampton Museum of Art was officially opened in February 2022.  Since it’s opening, it has held 27 exhibitions, over 500 individual programs and attracted over 139,000 visitors.

For more information on the Rockhampton Museum of Art, visit