Sarjeant Gallery Whanganui | Frequently Asked Questions
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Frequently Asked Questions

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Why is the Sarjeant Gallery Collection so special?

For nearly one hundred years the Sarjeant Gallery Te Whare o Rehua Whanganui, on behalf of the people of our city, has been building its collections of fine art and applied art objects. With a collection now numbering over 8,000 pieces, in all media, it is unrivalled in regional New Zealand and can be viewed in similar terms to the major municipal collections of Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin. The Collection is nationally significant due to its size and depth of content. Housed within one of the finest purpose-built art galleries in the country, the building and the Collection are inextricably linked and are a part of our national history.

What is the Sarjeant Gallery Te Whare o Rehua Redevelopment Project?

The Redevelopment will see the construction of a new wing to the north of the existing gallery, honouring the memory of Sir Archie Te Atawhai Taiaroa. It will incorporate suitable storage for the Sarjeant’s nationally significant collection, improved education facilities, large exhibition spaces and spaces for retail and events. The original gallery, which has a Historic Places Trust Category 1 rating, a will be earthquake strengthened and restored, retaining its historic architectural features.

What is the timeframe for the Sarjeant Gallery Te Whare o Rehua Redevelopment Project?

We are working to have funds raised by the end of 2016 enabling a start on construction in mid-2017. The construction phase includes restoration of the existing building and construction of a new wing will take up to two years.  If everything goes to plan it will be completed in time for the Sarjeant Gallery centenary celebrations in 2019.

How much will the Redevelopment cost?

It is estimated the total project will cost $34 million. This includes all construction, inflationary, architectural, outfitting and contingency costs.

How will that be paid for?

Because of the national significance of the Gallery and the Collection we are looking to raise the capital from within Whanganui and further afield.

To date the Whanganui District Council has committed approximately $5m spread over several years. Remaining funds are targeted to come from Central Government, Lottery Grants Board, trusts, individual philanthropy and private sector corporate sponsorship.

Won’t the council have to underwrite the whole project cost?

No. There is no desire to over-burden the Whanganui ratepayer. As with other similar projects there are other options including having the project under-written by an independent organisation. This enables the fundraising period to be extended, while the project is able to go ahead on time.

How much has been raised so far?

Around $16 million has been secured or pledged (not including central Government funding of $10 million). Applications have also been made to Lottery and major Trusts.  The Trust is continuing to make approaches for corporate and philanthropic fundraising are being conducted.

What about running costs?

Enhanced retail, events spaces and other revenue generation opportunities will help to offset the potential costs. Providing environmental control to protect the collection will bring additional energy costs; and the insurance costs of the building will increase. The on-going running costs have been accounted for in the Council’s 10 Year Plan.

Is iwi involved with the Gallery redevelopment?

Yes. The redevelopment includes a proposal to dedicate an appropriate space in the memory of the late Sir Archie Te Atawhai Taiaroa: rangatira of Whanganui Iwi and a highly regarded leader amongst Māori and Pakeha. The exact nature of this commemoration has yet to be finalised. This space will be named the Taiaroa Pātaka – the meaning of the word Pātaka is that of a “house of storage”, a place where valuable things are safeguarded. Te Whare O Rehua will contain the old and the new, the Sarjeant Gallery and the Taiaroa Pātaka.

In 1995 Whanganui Iwi supported the representatives on the Sarjeant Gallery Trust Board, the late George Waretini and Alvin Ponga, in the gifting of the name “Te Whare O Rehua” (the House of Inspiration) to the Gallery. Rehua is associated with kindness, enjoyment and entertainment. His house in the highest heaven is the repository of fine gifts, artefacts and the aesthetic arts. The name firmly places the Gallery within the Whanganui community; Whanganui being the name given to the region by tangata whenua.

Who are the architects for the Sarjeant Gallery Development?
Warren and Mahoney – one of New Zealand’s top architectural practices. Visit www.warrenandmahoney.com for more information.
How were the architects chosen?

In 1996 the Sarjeant Gallery Trust Board, supported by Council, undertook an Architectural Design Competition funded by a grant from the Edith Collier Trust. Council approved the design competition and, in June 1998, a Cultural Heritage Assessment was undertaken on the Gallery and this formed part of the Architectural Design Competition Brief which was completed in August 1998 and the competition launched.

The winning design by Steve McCracken of Warren and Mahoney was announced a year later in August 1999 and then subject to public consultation and review by stakeholder groups.

Has New Zealand Historic Places Trust been involved in the process?

Heritage New Zealand (formerly the NZHPT) recognises the importance of the Sarjeant Gallery building, the part it plays in New Zealand’s and Whanganui’s cultural history and the need to ensure its longevity. They have expressed their support and agreement with the proposed redevelopment in a letter which accompanied the application to the Regional Museums Fund, and have renewed their support for the developed design plans both in letters to central government and in support of the Resource Consent application.

A Memorandum of Understanding has been agreed between Whanganui District Council, Te Rūnanga o Tupoho on behalf of Te Awa Tupua and the New Zealand Historic Places Trust to oversee and advise on developments impacting on the Category 1 Sarjeant Gallery building.

What is being done to seismically strenghten the original part of the gallery?

A technique called ‘Base Isolation’ which is the best and least intrusive option for a building of the Sarjeant’s construction is being used. This method is supported by Heritage New Zealand.

How has Whanganui District Council supported the project?

Whanganui District Council has:

  • Launched the fundraising leg of the project
  • Moved the project to the ‘developed design stage’ at a cost of up to $1 million (completed in June 2014)
  • Gained resource consent for the full redevelopment project including base isolation to seismically strengthen the existing gallery; and the construction of an adjoining wing including which will house new facilities and environmentally controlled storage (completed in August 2014)
  • Supported the temporary relocation of the Gallery (completed in May 2014 for the operation, public programmes, education service and December 2015 for the collection) to 38 Taupo Quay while fundraising and subsequent construction of the redevelopment is undertaken
  • Resolved to allocate $4 million in its Ten Year Plan 2015 – 2025 over three years from its Earthquake Strengthening Rate towards the strengthening of the original Gallery building
Why did the Gallery move to Taupo Quay?

In order to mitigate the risk to the public, staff and collections  due to the earthquake risk posed by the original Gallery and pending the redevelopment, Council decided on 20 December 2012 to temporarily relocate the Gallery and its collection to an interim location at 38 Taupo Quay.

The relocation was necessary due to the earthquake risk of the Sarjeant Gallery posing a safety risk to staff and the public and the risk of damage to the collections.
The relocation project is nevertheless necessary whatever the outcome of the larger redevelopment project, as the earthquake-prone nature of the Sarjeant Gallery means that the safety of staff, the public and the collections required action to be taken.

How long did the relocation take?

Relocating the gallery operation and the collection took 21 months. The building work at the temporary gallery was completed in April 2014. The Gallery in Queen’s Park closed to the public on 2 March and the public gallery operation – exhibitions, events, education etc – moved to Taupo Quay over the following two months. The Gallery re-opened to the public at Taupo Quay on 24 May 2014.

At the same time, the collection totally more than 8000 items was relocated to the first floor of 38 Taupo Quay by December 2015. The transition project included full documentation and condition reporting of the works. Removal of the collection from the Queen’s Park premises and our off-site store to Taupo Quay was completed in December 2015. The transition process included full documentation and condition reporting of the collection works and was completed December 2015.

What did the relocation cost?

Relocating the gallery operation and the collection took 21 months.

The building work at the temporary gallery was completed in April 2014. The Gallery in Queen’s Park closed to the public on 2 March and the public gallery operation – exhibitions, events, education etc – moved to Taupo Quay over the following two months. The Gallery re-opened to the public at Taupo Quay on 24 May 2014.

At the same time, the collection totally more than 8000 items was relocated to the first floor of 38 Taupo Quay by December 2015. The transition project included full documentation and condition reporting of the works.

Removal of the collection from the Queen’s Park premises and our off-site store to Taupo Quay was completed in December 2015. The transition process included full documentation and condition reporting of the collection works and was completed December 2015.

Will there be an entry fee when the new gallery opens?
No. It is important to Whanganui District Council and Gallery management that the Sarjeant be accessible to all sectors of the community and that the gallery be at the heart of the community.