Council to seek funding for new multi-million dollar Art Gallery

Published on 20 February 2018


I solemnly charge the future citizens of Rockhampton to maintain and advance this Gallery in years to come. This is the least that we can expect of the citizens of tomorrow in return for the splendid contribution made by the citizens of today.  - Rockhampton Mayor Rex Pilbeam, 1979.

With Rex Pilbeam’s words ringing in their ears, Council today took the bold step of endorsing plans for a new Rockhampton Art Gallery development with a mission to now seek funding from both levels of Government. 

To be constructed next to Customs House, the new Art Gallery will occupy the footprint of existing Council owned buildings at 212 and 214 Quay Street.

Rockhampton Region Mayor Margaret Strelow said the development of the new Art Gallery will provide a tourist drawcard for visitors from interstate and beyond.

“Rex Pilbeam left the community an amazing art collection and charged future generations with the responsibility of caring for and expanding his legacy. Now, we are another step closer to honouring his wishes with the new $31m Rockhampton Art Gallery that will set the benchmark for regional galleries," Mayor Strelow said. 

"It will serve as the catalyst project for the new Cultural Precinct, attracting more exhibitions to our Region, bolstering our existing reputation as one of the State's leading regional galleries, and it will provide more opportunities for our local artists to showcase their works."

In 2017 Council received a $2million grant from the State Government to progress the Business Case and design works. Council tasked Queensland’s award winning Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA) designers, Clare Designs as well as renowned heritage architects Conrad Gargett and local architect Brian Hooper to design the new Rockhampton Art Gallery.

The design brief also included the refurbishment of the underutilised Bond Store, top level of Customs House and stables, which collectively form the new Cultural Precinct.

Mayor Strelow said the international reputation and decades of experience from both the designers and architects has seen a design that exceeded Council’s expectations, resulting in a world-class facility for the community.

“Council considered repurposing the buildings at 212 and 214 Quay Street, however the architects showed us that this option was more expensive than building a new structure and that the space would not work for a modern gallery.  Reusing the old buildings, aside from not being the best solution from a cost perspective would also restrict the collections we could showcase,” Mayor Strelow said.

“The ceiling heights would always be a challenge and retrofitting the size and style of lift required for an art gallery as well as installing loading docks at the rear eventually convinced us to start fresh.

“The new design gives us the flexibility to combine two major spaces over approximately 1200m2, allowing us to accommodate our entire collection and triple the proportion of our collection able to be exhibited.”

The top floor will showcase Rex Pilbeam’s legacy collection - currently in storage due to limited exhibition space at the existing facility, and the first floor will allow for large scale national and international travelling exhibitions.

“We have seen elsewhere that excellent exhibitions can be a major tourism driver in increasing visitation to the CBD and Region,” Mayor Strelow said.

"It will allow us to really showcase the collection, improve our programming and deliver a standout visitor experience.  Delivery of this project will signal a new era for our arts and culture scene and our CBD.”

Following today’s endorsement of the project, Council will proceed to the detail design phase and planning approval sought for the new Rockhampton Art Gallery. This work will then provide a shovel ready project for the Region for which Council will seek state and federal funding. 

Art Gallery Features:

  • Over 600m2 of double volume exhibition spaces, a height exceeding 7.5m

  • Dedicated retail and café spaces ensuring business opportunities and income models 

  • Flexible multipurpose areas including spaces for education, training and research 

  • A dedicated exhibition program to the presentation and development of artists living and working in Central Queensland 

  • AAA industry standard storage and back of house areas safeguarding collecting capacities for decades to come.

Footage and images of the proposed Art Gallery can be found here: