Detailed review by magdadh
Highlands, United Kingdom
Anne & Gordon Samstag Museum of Art is technically part of the University of South Australia, and is located at the edge of the City West campus, in the western part of Adelaide's cultural precinct, the North Terrace, within a minute's walk from the arts and craft centre of the JamFactory and about fifteen minutes walk from the South Australia Museum and Art Gallery.
The "museum" name is a bit of a misnomer, as the Sansom Museum is an art gallery par excellence, and is devoted to changing temporary exhibitions of contemporary art. The Hawke Building itself is quite impressive, an unashamedly modern (and modernist) face of the University of South Australia.
We visited the Museum in July 2010, and during our visit the Museum we saw two exhibitions: one was called Abstract Nature "inspired by the immanent beauty of organic pattern and form in the Australian landscape" and consisted of paintings and other forms and the other was the exhibition of photography by Mark Kimber, EdgeLand. The latter was technically in the Kerry Packer Civic Gallery upstairs, but we were not even aware that we were actually in a different space.
I enjoyed both of the exhibitions very much. Kimber's photographs of empty, night-time urban spaces had a stark beauty emanating from the combination of a formal perfection, excellent use of light, form and colour, and desolation of everyday space, busy in the daytime but empty and somewhat abandoned at night.
Abstract Nature was also rather good, with a variety of landscape and nature inspired works in various styles and media. There were some excellent paintings by Philip Hunter and photos by Richard Woldendrop as well as some Aboriginal artists, ceramics by Pippin Drysdale and tri-dimensional objects (instalations, perhaps) by Shona Wilson. We also found that most of that art was a very good educational tool, and our nine year old enjoyed working out what objects or natural phenomena inspired particular works. She was most interested in the larger-than-life acrylic jellyfish hanging from the ceiling in the foyer and geometric shaped brains, though!
Entry into the museum is free of charge and although it seemed to me that the main purpose for it is to act as an educational facility for school and university students, the staff were friendly, helpful and informative towards us.
It's not a large place, with one big gallery downstairs and a couple of smaller spaces upstairs (the stairs, by the way, are bit Escherish, and fun to work out too), but we found it very much worth a visit, especially s sit was on the way from our hotel to the centre of town. But even for those not staying nearby, the detour is certainly worth an effort. Plan about an hour (assuming similar size exhibitions as the ones we saw) for a visit and remember that the opening hours are slightly late, Tuesday to Friday 11.00am 5.00pm, Saturday & Sunday 2.00pm - 5.00pm.
Anne & Gordon Samstag Museum of Art