It’s been years in the making, but the final funding gap for the Newcastle Art Gallery expansion has been filled.
The state and federal government have both committed $5 million each towards the $40 million project.
The funds will accompany $16.5 million to come from Newcastle Council and $10 million from a bequest from the late Val Ryan.
The project is so shovel ready that construction begins on Monday, with the gallery set to close for two years, as it expands two fold.
Newcastle Art Gallery has a collection of 7,000 pieces in it’s collection, which are collectively valued at more than $115 million. The expansion will see all of it’s works on display simultaneously.
An open day is being held on Sunday, to celebrate the expansion and for people to visit before doors close to the public.
Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce was in town on Friday to make the funding announcement and says he’s focused on funding projects that underpin economic growth in regional areas.
“Our government wants regional towns to be the best places to live, work and visit.
“More visitors means greater economic activity in the area, which benefits tourism operators and local businesses, supports and creates jobs, and helps the economy grow.
“It’s also about providing opportunities for locals and limiting the need for them to travel to capital city to experience iconic pieces of Australian and international art,” Mr Joyce said.
The project will also deliver a new café and retail shop, multi-purpose and educational program space, a secure international standard loading dock, and will extend the building’s footprint east along Darby Street and Queen Street.
Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes says it’s the beginning of an exciting new era for the gallery.
“After more than 16 years of effort to make the expansion a reality, the commitment of $10 million from the Commonwealth and NSW Governments allows us to start the project immediately.
“By doubling the size of the Gallery, significantly increasing the exhibition space and delivering a suite of modern facilities, this project will deliver an expanded and upgraded gallery of international standing that will offer a valuable cultural tourism opportunity for Newcastle and the Hunter, Cr Nelmes said.
The City will now call for tenders for a Fine Art Handler to to help relocate the collection into secure, temperature-controlled storage to ensure the protection and preservation of the valuable works during the expansion project.