In the 1940s, Margo and Gerald Lewers – two leading Australian Modernist artists – bought the property at Emu Plains and made it their home and studio. In 1955, award winning Australian architect Sydney Ancher designed some alterations to the original house and in 1961 he designed a second house on the site, known as Ancher House.
The Gallery’s landscaped grounds were designed by both Margo and Gerald Lewers to complement the buildings, their artwork, the environment and their lifestyle. In 1980, following the death of Margo Lewers (Gerald had died in 1962) the Lewers family bequeathed the site, buildings, Collection and gardens to Penrith City Council for the people of Penrith and the development of contemporary art. The vision was to create an art centre for the community. Since 1981 the Penrith Regional Gallery has offered exhibitions, education and workshop programs and special events.
In 2006 the Gallery underwent a state funded $1.65 million capital improvement program. In July 2006 the Gallery was integrated into PP&VA. Penrith Regional Gallery & The Lewers Bequest continues to offer ongoing exhibition programs; education and workshop programs and events, and aims to develop and maintain a centre of excellence in the visual arts, providing a cultural and educational resource for the community by:
- Providing a broad range of visual art experiences of a regional, national and international nature, thus servicing the diversity of interests and needs within our local and regional communities
- Undertaking the care, research and interpretation of the Collection and heritage site
- Developing the Gallery as a research and educational facility
- Being recognised by the local community as a quality asset of which they can be proud.
Specifically, the Gallery’s exhibition, education and cultural programs:
- Refer to/involve the people, place and history of Penrith and Western Sydney
- Refer to/involve the history/significance of the Collection and heritage site
- Involve community members in community cultural development processes
- Present contemporary visual arts and crafts practice
- Investigate relevant areas of Australian art history and scholarship.