Art Gallery remains closed in preparation for move

Published on 25 August 2020


Art Gallery to remain closed in preparation for move to Rockhampton Museum of Art

Rockhampton Art Gallery will remain closed to the public as it transitions to the new Rockhampton Museum of Art, Rockhampton Regional Council decided at a full council meeting today (Tuesday 25 August).

The Gallery closed its doors to the public in mid March because of COVID-19 regulations.

Today’s decision means that although it is closed to the public, behind the scenes, Gallery staff will continue with preparations for the move of the collection and future operations, while supporting the final construction stages of Rockhampton Museum of Art, which is due to open in late 2021.

Rockhampton Regional Council Community Services spokesperson Cr Drew Wickerson said that building a new museum of art is a substantial undertaking, and so too is preparing the nationally significant collection to undertake its greatest whole of collection moves in its history.

“Remaining closed will enable staff to concentrate on the preparations for the move and establishment of Rockhampton Museum of Art,” Cr Wickerson said.

Staff are working on a variety of tasks in the lead-up to the move and the 2021 opening of Rockhampton Museum of Art, including:

  • Conservation work to ensure that the painting are ready to hang on the 4m – 7.8m walls.
  • Housing of the 3D collection particularly ceramic and glass to ensure that the artworks are safe in their short 1.3km move.
  • Documenting the artworks for visual observations and conditions to ensure they are ready for the move.
  • Cataloguing the collection in to a new collection management system, ensuring that all artworks are trackable and traceable, with the new system tracking via barcodes to make the outward and inward registration and movements increasingly efficient. 
  • Supporting the construction team on the building systems, plant, electrical and mechanical so that the 4700 square metre building is not just a building, but is a leading regional museum of art in Australia, one that is efficient, smart, programmable, and purposeful.
  • Planning exhibitions, learning and access for Rockhampton Museum of Art’s first years of exhibitions.
  • One of the many considerable tasks is preparing collection for the move.

“All artworks need preparation before travel, whether that’s hundreds of kilometres, or just down the street, in our case,” Cr Wickerson said.

“Rockhampton has a sizeable permanent collection in excess of 2,200 works, including painting, works on paper, ceramics and glass, much of which is of national significant. Some of these artworks are older pieces or delicate due to their construction or materiality, and may require a degree of conservation and supports and housing prior to moving. All of the artworks require expert storage and handling in the moving process.

“The work that the team is doing now will put us in a much stronger position by the time Rockhampton Museum of Art opens to the public in late 2021. People who visit Rockhampton Museum of Art will have access to much more in depth information about the artworks and artists. And of course there will be much more space to display our artworks, with Rockhampton Museum of Art having 4700 square metres under roof compared tour current site at Rockhampton Art Gallery of around 600 square metres.

“Remaining closed will allow us some efficiencies not possible if Rockhampton Art Gallery were to be open with exhibitions and other activities,” he said.

Rockhampton Museum of Art is funded by the Australian Government through the Building Better Regions Fund; the Queensland Government through Arts Queensland and through the Building Our Regions program; and Rockhampton Regional Council.