Geelong Gallery celebrated its centenary in 1996. According to the 1996 Annual Report, Geelong Gallery hosted a variety of events to celebrate the occasion, including a cocktail party with Governor of Victoria-designate Sir James Gobbo AC CVO QC as guest of honour.
Geelong Gallery’s centenary acquisition was The hunt by acclaimed Australian artist John Brack. This acquisition was made possible through generous donations from the public as well as the Geelong Art Gallery Foundation.
1996 was also the inaugural year of the Geelong contemporary art prize, with Australian artist John Nixon being awarded the prize for his work Black + orange cross. The first year of this prize saw 550 submissions, with Director Susie Shears and Curator Anne Carew selecting the works of 26 finalists for exhibition.