Council investigating options for Sarjeant Gallery - 11/07/2012Wanganui Mayor Annette Main today said the Wanganui District Council will investigate options for temporarily relocating the Sarjeant Gallery because of the building’s earthquake-prone status.
This week the Infrastructure and Property Committee recommended that detailed investigations be done on the feasibility of closing the existing Sarjeant Gallery building for three to 10 years and relocating the Gallery activity to an interim site. A report on the investigations will be brought back to the Infrastructure and Property Committee in November.
Mayor Main said a story in the Wanganui Chronicle (11 July 2012) contained a number of errors.
“Our staff presented five options to address concerns about the safety of the collection in a very low-rated earthquake-prone building, and to address the Chief Executive’s responsibilities to staff and public safety under the terms of the Health and Safety Act,” Mayor Main said.
“At this stage, the preferred option is to look at temporarily relocating the Sarjeant Gallery operation and collection to an interim site, yet to be identified. This would ensure continuity of operations as well as the wellbeing of the public, staff and collection.”
The cost of temporarily relocating the Sarjeant Gallery’s functions as a whole is estimated at $2.170M over five years. This includes the cost of building fitout and services, transition of the collection and operational costs for five years.
The other options presented to the committee were:
- Maintain the Gallery activity in the existing building.
- Close the building for three to 10 years and relocate the Gallery functions to separate interim locations.
- Place the Gallery in hibernation with no public face in Wanganui.
- Relocate the Gallery functions to separate locations and construct a permanent store for the collection.
“Putting the Gallery into ‘hibernation’ is discounted as an option because it is inconsistent with the Council’s long-term commitment to seek funding for the Sarjeant Gallery redevelopment,” Mayor Main said.
“This option would eliminate, for the duration of the interim period, any public interface in Wanganui. Active public engagement during the course of the redevelopment project is a desire and a requirement which demonstrates the Council’s commitment to the institution, its programme and the collections. A further risk in the ‘hibernation’ scenario is that we might lose highly-qualified key staff to other institutions, where a future activity and career progression is certain. Hibernation was the lowest-rated option of the five.”
Until the Council makes a final decision about possible relocation, it is ‘business as usual’ at the Sarjeant Gallery.
“We are taking all practicable steps to ensure people’s safety,” Mayor Main said.
“The likelihood of a major, damaging earthquake is small and we are continuing with our exhibitions and education programmes as usual. However, within the Gallery we are providing high quality, sturdy tables which are not only functional, but will also offer shelter if an event does occur.”
The Infrastructure and Property Committee’s recommendations will be considered at the full Council meeting on July 30.