Bundanon Trust's sod turning ceremony was a high-profile affair on Wednesday morning as the organisation marked the beginning of construction for the new fire-proof art gallery and storage facility.
Two arts ministers, two local MPs, two councillors and the University of Wollongong's Vice-Chancellor all showed up on January, 29 to kick-off the development of the $33 million art gallery.
As the South Coast bushfires threatened the Bundanon property over the New Year, to protect the gallery's $43 million collection, the majority of the Trust's art was trucked into storage in Sydney.
Bundanon Trust chief executive officer Deborah Ely said when the fire season was over artworks would be brought back to the homestead but the bulk of the collection would remain in storage until the new building is complete.
"We knew the collection needed to be protected from bushfires because we are in the bush, but we hadn't quite planned such a catastrophic summer," she said.
"It seems very prescient that this new building is being built specially to protect against what we've just experienced."
Principal architect Kerstin Thompson said there was only a small, suitable area which would protect the gallery from fire and flood.
"It's virtually impossible to have completely fireproof buildings but there are things that you can do in the design to mitigate," she said.
"For instance, building materials and types that minimise the likelihood of embers catching fire - so, non-flammable materials.
"Then of course the treatment of the landscape is part of this too - we want to enjoy the beautiful bush that's here but we also just have to manage the proximity of [the bush] to the new building."
Building the gallery underground brings some unique benefits.
"The subterranean gallery did a few things - it's a great way to provide protection of the collection, it's also a possible refuge for people as well," Ms Thompson said.
"It has thermal stability too so it's environmentally a really good move, it means you can minimise your mechanical services to keep your climate control."
At the event the Federal Arts Minister Paul Fletcher announced an additional $300,000 to install an ember suppression systems on Bundanon's other buildings.
"This bushfire season has highlighted the importance of guarding this precious property and its collection against the threat of bushfire," Minister Fletcher said.
"The new system will make sure the Bundanon property, including the Arthur Boyd Homestead, studio, artists in residence and musician cottages, and the art collection store, is sufficiently equipped for future bushfire threats."