Renowned American artist James Turrell will transform the Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) with a major architectural light installation later this year.

Turrell’s dramatic light installation will see GOMA’s eastern and southern facades illuminated from within from dusk, painted by an evolving pattern of light developed by the artist for the location.

When the permanent installation is activated in December, it will be visible from around the Cultural Precinct and across the river, giving the building a new life after dark.

QAGOMA director Chris Saines says Turrell’s installation will deliver on the promise of GOMA’s design, as intended by the original architects.

“In 2002, after Architectus + Davenport Campbell won the international competition to design the Gallery of Modern Art, lead architects Kerry Clare, Lindsay Clare and James Jones envisaged an artist-illuminated ‘white box’ on the building’s main pedestrian approaches,” Saines says.

“While GOMA’s vast container for light was built, it has been unlit — until now.

“Turrell’s architectural light installation will activate the potential of this white box facade and realise the architects’ original design intention for GOMA.”

Turrell has been creating ‘destination artwork’ around the world for over 50 years, working with light and space to create immersive and moving work. Aussie audiences might recognise his work from his ‘Skyspaces’, chambers with an aperture in the ceiling open to the sky, that have been displayed at Canberra’s National Gallery of Australia and Hobart’s Museum of Old and New Art.

The Queensland Government has contributed funds towards the development of the commission, which is also being funded by donations from leading benefactors and the 2017 QAGOMA Foundation Appeal.

Premier and Arts Minister Annastacia Palaszczuk says the activation of Turrell’s installation in December will be a fitting bookend to GOMA’s 10th birthday celebrations.

“The GOMA Turns 10 celebrations have delivered record-breaking numbers, with an astounding 628,000 visitors experiencing the program, including the hugely popular exhibition, Sugar Spin: you, me, art and everything,” the Premier says.

“The illumination of the building with this one-of-a-kind work will further enhance GOMA’s position as a cultural drawcard showcasing the best in contemporary art worldwide.

“The artwork will be visible from around the Cultural Precinct and across the river, adding substantially to the presence of an already iconic building and giving it new life after dark.”