The Newcastle Art Gallery could be closed for more than two years, if the city wins a $10 million grant from the Federal Government to fund its long-awaited expansion.
According to a schedule unveiled on Tuesday night, the gallery would be unable to remain operational, while works to double exhibition space and add a cafe were undergoing.
Deputy Lord Mayor Declan Clausen says the closure would be a short hiccup for the sake of the gallery in the long run.
“The Art Gallery collection is the city’s most valuable asset,” Cr Clausen said.
“It’s valued at more than $120 million dollars, yet in its current configuration only a very small percentage of the art that is owned by Novocastrians is able to be shown in the gallery.”
If the project is given the go-ahead, the current schedule would see a relocation of telecommunications services and other early works before construction begins next August, running until March 2024.
Another three-month commissioning period is likely then, meaning the gallery would open around halfway through 2024.
The council is expected to put out a call for tender for early works later this year.
Cr Clausen says the community’s concern was understandable, but they’re working to find a solution.
“We’ve got extraordinary pieces, Dobells and the like, that are part of the city’s collection,” Cr Clausen said.
“The artworks themselves will be kept in secure storage, that’s climate controlled and appropriately air conditioned and the like, to ensure the protection of the artwork.”
“Two and a half years is a long period of time, and what will happen in the interim is that we’re working with our amazing Art Gallery director and the Art Gallery staff to look at how we can showcase the city’s artworks in other forms, right around Newcastle, so that people will still be able to enjoy the Art Gallery collection, but it will be in a different format until that building’s complete.”