On a fine Canberra evening on 12 October 1982 the Australian National Gallery (now the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra) was ceremonially opened by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, in the presence of some 850 distinguished guests. Proclaimed ‘an Event of National importance’, the occasion was televised and broadcast to an audience of nearly 2 million Australians, and Blue poles 1952 played a starring role.

‘I have seen a country moving confidently into the future, secure in the knowledge that a people rich with talent and full of enterprise and industry, together with a land abundant in resources, form an unstoppable combination … Nothing could better demonstrate the enhanced standing of Australia than this fine National Art Gallery.’

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

An invitation to the opening of the Australian National Gallery addressed to former ANG Library manager Margaret Shaw

Queen Elizabeth II with Director James Mollison walking past Blue poles at the Gallery opening in 1982

Director Mollison and other dignitaries listened intently as Queen Elizabeth II addressed the opening gala

‘I would like to pay a special tribute to James Mollison, present Director of the Gallery who has devoted thirteen years of his life to this moment. I was able to have a quick preview of the Collection not long ago. I believe he should be complimented on the way the Collection has been put together and prepared for public presentation. The acquisitions of this Gallery will enable visitors to see major significant works of art of the all the major important periods, from nearly every significant school and from every continent.’

Rt. Hon. Malcolm Fraser, C.H., M.P., Prime Minister

In a letter to Director James Mollison the day after the opening, ANG Chairman of Council L. Gordon Darling gave thanks and praised the event

Ceremonial Opening publication – transcripts from Queen Elizabeth II, Mr Gordon Darling and Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser



The National Gallery of Australia acknowledges the Ngunnawal and Ngambri peoples, the traditional custodians of the Canberra region, and recognises their continuous connection to culture, community and country.