Expansion project moves underground as mine remediation kicks off at Newcastle Art Gallery

25 Aug 2022

Early construction works that will pave the way for a $40 million expansion kicked off this week at Newcastle Art Gallery.

Fencing has been erected and a specialist drill rig has been installed on site to begin the process of remediating abandoned mine workings underneath the Art Gallery.

Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said the remediation was a crucial step to ensure the safety of the site ahead of the main expansion works, which are expected to begin in mid-2023. Shortlisted applicants from the expression of interest process will be invited to tender for the main construction works later this year.

"Newcastle's long coal mining heritage means that much of the city centre sits on top of a number of historical underground mine workings, which date back as far as the early 1800s," Cr Nelmes said.

"Remediating these coal seams in the early stages of this project will ensure the long-term stability and protection of the expanded Art Gallery and its nationally significant $126 million collection, which has been relocated into secure off-site storage for the duration of the work.

"We have been waiting more than 16 years to see this expansion come to fruition, so it is exciting to see this significant step being taken, paving the way for the main construction work to begin next year.

"By doubling the size of the Gallery, significantly increasing the exhibition space and delivering a suite of modern facilities, this project will deliver an expanded and upgraded Gallery of international standing that will offer a valuable cultural tourism opportunity for Newcastle and the Hunter."

The remediation is expected to be completed in the first half of 2023 subject to weather and will target the 6.5 metre thick Borehole Coal Seam, which sits around 75 metres below ground level, and the 1 metre thick Dudley Coal Seam located around 27 metres below ground.

More than 100 bores will be drilled throughout the site to allow approximately 15,000 cubic metres of grout to be deployed into the seams as part of the expansion project's Grouting and Verification Plan approved by Subsidence Advisory New South Wales.

City of Newcastle has successfully applied for funding through the NSW Government's Newcastle Mines Grouting Fund, which will contribute to the cost of the remediation.

While the Gallery car park has been closed for the duration of the work, the car park on Queen Street behind Newcastle Library remains open, with access monitored by traffic controllers to ensure the safety of visitors to Darby Street and the Library. Other alternative parking can be found nearby on Tyrell Street.

Newcastle Art Gallery's $40 million expansion project will deliver an additional 1,600 square metres of exhibition space with dedicated areas for the Gallery's significant collection on the lower level, while the upper level will cater for a variety of temporary exhibitions, showcasing local, national and international artists.

The project includes 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.