Council to discuss gallery and museum on same site

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The combining of the Forrester Gallery and the North Otago Museum has been described as a ‘wonderful opportunity’ by director or the two entities, Jane MacKnight.

Today at a meeting of the Waitaki District Council the combining of the two groups onto the Forrester Gallery site will be discussed and a recommendation is before councillors to include this project in the 2015/25 Long Term Plan.

The project runs under the name of the Cultural Facilities Redevelopment Project and also to be confirmed today is the establishment of a sub-committee to progress the idea.

Ms MacKnight said if these recommendations are approved then work will start immediately on considering concepts, planning and a feasibility study to come up with the best proposal.

“This would be followed by a period of public consultation to work out the best model for the community,” she said.

The recommendation also includes combining the storage of the gallery, museum and Waitaki Archive collections to the Athenaeum (and ancillary buildings) site if it is cost effective.

Chairman of the Friends of the Forrester Gallery, Bruce Albiston, could not be reached for comment but committee member, John Chetwin, said the proposal has been positively received.

“We see it as an opportunity to move forward,” he said.

“Many years have been spent supporting the development of the gallery building.”

“There seemed to us to be a lot of features in common between the two groups like the preservation/conservation of works of art and we also have a similar visitor base.”

“It could bring more people into the gallery who are visiting the museum and vice versa.”

“The sooner progress is made the better”

The redevelopment has been discussed from as early as Feruary 2012 for reasons based on maintenance issues, upgrading archive storage to meet mandatory standards, lack of functional building space, lack of revenue generating opportunities,access and community support for upgraded facilities.

By LINDA MCCARTHY