Wanganui's art gallery could face a short-term relocation as the district council wrestles with options to keep the facility accessible while mitigating against the potential for earthquake damage and risk to public safety.
The council's infrastructure and property committee yesterday discussed five options presented by its officers but decided it wanted more detailed investigation on alternatives for the Sarjeant Gallery.
All involve short-term alternatives only - of three to 10 years - given the council is seeking funding for a major gallery rebuild. But meantime, concerned about the health and safety of gallery staff and the public, it has had to look for options.
The one to find most favour involves relocating the gallery to space above the i-Site building on Moutoa Quay. With an estimated cost of $2.170 million, it is reckoned the move would maintain the visibility of the Sarjeant and collection, answer safety questions, and allow the gallery to keep functioning.
Other options included:
Maintain the gallery in its existing location - $1.333 million
Relocate the gallery to separate collection storage and exhibition spaces, with a smaller exhibition space - $1.710 million
Relocate the collection and have no exhibition function - $1.770 million
Build the basement storage part of the proposed gallery extension, shift the collection into it but have smaller exhibition space off site - $7.810 million
Council chief executive Kevin Ross said officers had taken a conservative view in preparing the options. While central government was working on regulations in the wake of the Christchurch earthquake, the council needed to look to short-term fixes.
Greg Anderson, the gallery's senior curator, said the collection could be "put in hibernation".
"That's nothing more than creating storage space and it would mean some of the staff would go. But it also means removing the collection and storing it somewhere safer," he said.
Staff had concerns about the many school groups that visited the gallery and felt there was "no safe place" above the basement in the existing building. He said it was not about abandoning the gallery "but in lieu of doing nothing, this is a good solution".
Mayor Annette Main said the council needed to promote any short-term move out of the gallery in a positive manner because it was important to keep up momentum in its bids for rebuild funding. It was also about the council showing responsibility.
The report is expected to be back on the committee table for its November meeting.