Early works to commence underneath Newcastle Art Gallery ahead of expansion

27 Apr 2022

Work is set to commence beneath the Newcastle Art Gallery to prepare for the $40 million expansion of one of the city's most loved cultural assets.

At Tuesday's Council meeting, Councillors awarded a tender for remediation work for the site, which sits above the Dudley Coal Seam and Borehole Coal Seam.

Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said the mine remediation is a crucial part of early work to prepare the site ahead of the main construction commencing.

"An interesting and little-known fact about Newcastle Art Gallery is that it sits atop abandoned mine workings, so it's important that we ensure the site is safe for construction of the expanded gallery to commence later this year," Cr Nelmes said.

"The mine remediation is a significant step forward to prepare the site, while work continues inside the gallery to decant and prepare the extensive collection for offsite storage."

The work will target the Borehole Coal Seam, which sits around 75 metres below ground level, and Dudley Coal Seam around 27 metres below ground.

The remediation is scheduled to commence in June and will require approximately 15,000 cubic metres of grout deployed into the seams through over 100 individual bores, which will be drilled throughout the site.

The mine remediation work has been designed as part of the project's Grouting and Verification Plan, which has received approval from Subsidence Advisory New South Wales. An application, which is currently under assessment, has been made to the Hunter Central Coast Development Corporation's Newcastle Mines Grouting Fund to contribute to the cost of the work.

With the Gallery's collection currently being decanted, a temporary photography studio has been set up onsite enabling the digitisation and condition reporting of the works of art prior to being placed into offsite storage.

During the Gallery's construction period, the community can access the collection online and outreach programs will commence within local schools from May. Other special activations include events in conjunction with New Annual that will introduce local and national audiences to a new programming direction for Newcastle Art Gallery. A Gallery podcast is also due to be released later this year.

Newcastle Art Gallery closed for expansion in January this year. The expansion project includes an additional 1,600 square metres of exhibition space with dedicated areas for the Gallery's collection on the lower level, while the upper level will cater for a variety of travelling exhibitions, including international shows.

The project will deliver a new café and retail shop, multi-purpose and educational program space, a secure international standard loading dock, and will extend the building's footprint east along Darby Street and Queen Street. The project is expected to be completed by mid-2024.

The $40 million project has been supported by a $10 million grant from the Commonwealth and New South Wales Governments, a $10 million bequest from Valerie Ryan and $500,000 in funding from the Margaret Olley Art Trust through the Newcastle Art Gallery Foundation.

To stay up to date with behind the scenes content of the decanting process and collection highlights, visit the Newcastle Art Gallery Facebook page at www.facebook.com/NewcastleArtGalleryAustralia