Nov 27, 2011
The National Art School buildings, in Forbes Street, were originally Darlinghurst Gaol.
Built partly by convicts, and partly by the free labour, the gaol featured a panopticon, which allowed for surveillance of the prisoners from a central position.
Building of the prison commenced in 1822, but due to funding problems, it was not completed until the 1880’s. Convict transportation had ceased in 1840 and treating prisoners more humanely was one element of the much larger endeavour of creating a civil society.
The Chapel building (below) was restored in 2004 and is used for life drawing classes.
The Art School grew out of Sydney Technical College. The Department of Art was moved from Ultimo to the disused Darlinghurst Gaol site (1922), and after extensive modifications, it occupying five buildings alongside other departments from East Sydney Technical College. The name 'National Art School' was embraced during the 1950's, although it had been used earlier.
The National Art School Bachelor of Fine Art degree was accredited in 1998 and the three-year course began in 1999. NSA has a Gallery in one of the original gaol building which was refurbished and opened in 2006.
NSA is behind the Darlinghurst Court House at Taylor Square on Oxford Street Location map NAS info
References: Dictionary of Sydney - National Art School and Darlinghurst Gaol ; NAS - History