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The redevelopment project

The Gallery Redevelopment Project will preserve the original building, protect the Gallery's nationally-important collection and provide increased access to the collections. The project will be a partnership between Whanganui District Council, Whanganui Iwi, central Government and donors and sponsors both large and small.

Artists impression: view of proposed redevelopment

What will it cost?

The developed design process is now completed, Resource Consent was granted in August 2014, and the total project cost is estimated at $34 million.

Where will the money come from?

Council’s contribution is around $5,000,000. Council resolved on 3 December 2013 to take the project on to the Developed Design stage, supported by funding from Powerco Wanganui Trust and the Sarjeant Gallery Trust. The costs of the design work are included in the total project cost.

The rest of the funding will come from external sources: Government; Lottery; trusts; and corporate and individual philanthropy. A detailed  Revenue Generation Strategy is being implemented, which  outlines  the plan, preferred sources of funding  and timing for applications. 

The funding breakdown as at March 2016 is summarised in round terms below.

Ministry for Culture and Heritage 10,000,000
Lottery Environment & Heritage 2,000,000
Lottery Significant Projects Fund
Corporate and individual philanthropy
Smaller-scale fundraising, including 1,000 Stars 1

1. There are a number of different types of fundraising schemes planned.

A Generous Gift

The Sarjeant Gallery Te Whare o Rehua Whanganui was founded through the generosity of one man to his home city. In 1912, Henry Sarjeant left a huge sum of money - the equivalent of over $70 million in today's terms - to establish the gallery "as a means of inspiration for ourselves and those who come after us". The Gallery opened in 1919 and is recognised as one of the country's most important heritage buildings. Over the last ninety-seven years, through the Sarjeant bequest and the many kind gifts of subsequent benefactors, the collection has become one of national importance.

The Gallery was not, of course, designed to the modern building code - indeed there was no building code then. Unsurprisingly then, it is categorised as earthquake prone, meeting only 5% of the current New Building Standard with regard to earthquake strength.

The collections were mainly stored in the basement of the Gallery. It was not designed as a storage space for works of art. Access is difficult and the environment is not suitable for long-term preservation. As a result, the collection was at risk of deterioration from a variety of causes - changing temperatures, fluctuating humidity and attacks by pests - in addition to the risk posed by earthquake collapse. To protect public, staff and the collection the Gallery has relocated to a temporary home at Sarjeant on the Quay, 38 Taupo Quay, Whanganui, assisted by funding from the Lotteyr grants Board.

Basement storage at the Sarjeant
Basement storage at the Sarjeant Gallery.

The Gallery's exhibition spaces also lack environmental control. Changes in temperature can lead to cracking, flaking and warping of works on display, damage which is very expensive to repair. In addition, the lack of control over environmental conditions in the Gallery spaces means that national and international touring shows cannot come to the Sarjeant because it does not meet the stringent requirements of the lenders.

Artist's impression: view from the North

The plan

The redevelopment plan will create purpose-built storage facilities to the north of the existing Gallery together with additional exhibition space, education facilities and events space. This will enable more of the permanent collection to be seen than is possible at present as well as looking after the collection for the future. The original Sarjeant Gallery will be strengthened against the risk of earthquakes through the use of base isolation. At the same time the environment throughout the public and storage spaces will be controlled to preserve collections on display and allow major touring exhibitions to come to Wanganui.






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