Newcastle Art Gallery could close in January for more than two years for long-awaited expansion | Newcastle Herald


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The Newcastle Art Gallery could close for up to two and a half years in January for its long-planned expansion if the council secures a $ 10 million federal grant. In a project update provided to councilors on Tuesday evening, council staff said the expansion project was on track to begin early next year and is expected to be completed in mid-2024. Initial work will include relocating telecommunications services from the expansion site and intensively sealing two underground mine voids. The town hall should launch a call for tenders for this work before the end of the year and will launch a campaign to express interest in the development works in the first half of 2022. Construction would then begin in August 2022 and would continue until ‘in March. 2024, according to the proposed schedule. There would then probably be a three month commissioning period before the gallery reopens to the public. Green Councilor John Mackenzie asked staff at the briefing if the gallery’s collection could be displayed elsewhere during the closing time. “The works of art are going to be stored for a long time, I wonder if there are opportunities to use other municipal buildings or other places in the city where we can exhibit at least part of the exhibition? ” he said. Newcastle Art Gallery director Lauretta Morton said that “from a risk management perspective” the entire gallery collection would be stored. She said there will be temporary exhibitions and activations promoting the future expanded gallery during the closure. The nearly $ 40 million expansion will double the gallery’s total floor space. It includes more exhibition space, a new cafe, retail store, educational area, and facilities at the back of the house. The council tabled a revised plan for the project, first approved in 2012, earlier this year. The development kept the same volume and scale with mostly internal changes made. The council increased its funding for the project to $ 16.2 million in February after the NSW Minister for the Arts repeatedly called on it to increase its share. He then passed a motion in July to request a $ 22.6 million loan from the NSW Treasury Corporation. The loan, in conjunction with bequests and fundraising, would allow the project to be completed without state or federal funds. But a decision on the loan will not be made until a request for a federal grant of $ 10 million under the regional stimulus package has been determined. The council also recently requested $ 5 million from the NSW government. While the gallery is not among the electorate he’s running for, Hunter’s national candidate for federal seat, James Thomson, recently asked the Morrison government to provide the $ 10 million the council has long been seeking. The Newcastle Art Gallery collection is worth around $ 115 million. Ms. Morton said the expansion would allow the gallery to display “all of our icons”. “The point is to get everything out of the closet, so to speak,” she said. “We loan works of art to the National Gallery… we loan them to every state gallery in the country.” Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said it had been a “long process”, but the expansion would soon become a reality. She said it would be a “wonderful result” to get state or federal funds.

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