The Art Gallery of South Australia, along with the library and museum, had several temporary homes. The Gallery occupied the Institute Building, the Jervois Wing of the State Library, and the former Jubilee Exhibition Building. It was the last of the cultural organisations to have its own building.
In 1898, after receiving a large bequest from Sir Thomas Elder to buy artworks, the government decided it was time to build a proper gallery. However, the colony was still going through a depression and a lavish new building was out of the question. As with the North Wing of the South Australian Museum built a few years earlier, the Superintendent of Public Works C.E. Owen Smyth had to create a modest building within a tight budget.
Governor Lord Tennyson opened the new gallery on 7 April 1900. This is the present Elder Wing of the Art Gallery. Even on a limited budget, the new building had a stunning roof skylight, which has been restored recently.
Nearly 40 years went by before the was a chance to renovate the exterior to match the treasures within the gallery. In 1936 another large bequest allowed the Melrose Wing, a new façade and an entrance area to be built.
There have been more renovations to the building since then. These include the construction of the northern wing and additions to the western wing.
Today, South Australians and visitors can enjoy some of the 38,000 works from the Gallery’s collection on display. The Art Gallery is free and open every day.