Art Gallery construction to start this July

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The Rockhampton CBD will continue its transformation with Council today signing off on construction of the new Art Gallery to begin in July.

Council this morning resolved to call tenders from four contractors who were shortlisted after an Expression of Interest was run in September last year and Mayor Margaret Strelow said with funding now secured, it was time to put the pedal to the metal.

“Rex Pilbeam’s legacy of a nationally significant collection of modernist Australian art will finally be able to be pulled out of storage and put on public display where it belongs,” Mayor Strelow said.

“The new Art Gallery is a catalyst project and with it comes the opportunity to unlock a precinct focussed on art, culture, events and modern education centred around the Customs House.”

Rockhampton’s new Art Gallery will be three storeys and include a double volume exhibition space on the lower floor and a upper level gallery for semi-permanent exhibitions including Council’s collection. It will also include a Gallery shop and a café, flexible multipurpose areas/education spaces, administration, storage and back of house areas.

“We wouldn’t be here without the support of all levels of Government and I commend the support from both State and Federal Governments in funding this project,” Mayor Strelow said.

“We were delighted to receive a $2 million grant from the State Government a few years ago which allowed us to engage one of the best architectural firms in Australia to design a home that is fitting for this amazing collection.”

Lindsay and Kerrie Clare who designed Queensland’s award winning Gallery of Modern Art on Southbank bring an international reputation and decades of experience to the design of the new building. They have been joined by Conrad Gargett, who were responsible for the refurbishment and repurposing of Brisbane’s Customs House, and local architect Brian Hooper.

Mayor Strelow said the time had come to build a permanent home for Rex Pilbeam’s legacy collection.

“When Rex introduced the collection to the people of Rockhampton, he charged future generations with maintaining and advancing his art gallery,” Mayor Strelow said.

“In his words, ‘this is the least that we can expect from the citizens of tomorrow in return for the splendid contribution made by the citizens of today’.

“Today we accept that charge and commence work.

“Of course today’s art galleries are much more community minded than traditional galleries have been. Our existing crowded gallery space hosts toddlers playing and drawing and yoga classes among other things. The new Gallery’s location in the middle of the new Quay Street precinct will see a space that locals wander in an out of – totally at home.

“Whilst the top floor will house our existing collection, the ground floor is just as likely to be hosting an immersive digital experience as it is traditional sculpture.

“After completion of the procurement process we expect a two-year construction program to begin in July and finish mid-year 2021,” Mayor Strelow said.

The Rockhampton Art Gallery project has been funded by all three levels of Government. The Australian Government ($10 million), the Queensland Government ($2m for design from the State Government followed by $8 million last budget and a further $5 million grant from the Building our Regions fund) and Rockhampton Regional Council ($8.5 million).

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