The Hervey Bay Regional Gallery and Discovery Sphere is being refurbished.
The Hervey Bay Regional Gallery and Discovery Sphere is being refurbished.

Aircon fail leads to damage at Bay’s regional art gallery

DAMAGE caused to the Hervey Bay Regional Gallery and Discovery Sphere after airconditioning failed means the centre will be closed until late next year.

Mould grew on fixtures and displays because of the system failure.

The gallery is expected to reopen in November and it will be offering a major new art prize.

The inaugural Fraser Coast National Art Prize, an exhibition of high-quality contemporary art from artists across Australia, will be held to celebrate the reopening.

"The gallery will undergo a major refurbishment over the next year," Fraser Coast Regional Councillor David Lewis said.

The refurbishment was brought forward after the airconditioning and climate control systems at the centre in Old Maryborough Road failed.

"As a result of the airconditioning and climate control not working properly, mould grew on fixtures and displays, some of which will have to be discarded," Cr Lewis said.

"The Discovery Sphere section, which highlighted humpback whales in Hervey Bay and Fraser Island, was extensively damaged.

"The building has been shut since March while a series of investigations were undertaken to find out why the systems failed and devise an action plan to remove the damaged fixtures and clean the facility.

"By chance, most of the displays in the Discovery Sphere were due for replacement so council was already starting to think about the future of the centre.

"While the Discovery Sphere will not be rebuilt as a static, separate display; the themes previously interpreted in this display, including Butchulla Cultural Heritage and Natural Heritage, are still critically important to the community and will be integrated into the annual program."

Cr Lewis said the refurbishment works presented the council with an opportunity.

"The bigger gallery will be able to attract larger travelling exhibitions," he said.

While the gallery is closed for cleaning and refurbishment, Council will take the opportunity to develop a new Hervey Bay Regional Gallery Strategic Plan (2021-2027).

A Community Consultation Group has been set up to discuss the new plan and Council hopes to call for public feedback on a draft plan early in 2021.

"This is an opportunity to look at new ideas," Cr Lewis said.

"Galleries are moving in new directions, away from the old static displays so we have an opportunity to plan ahead; to look at industry trends and develop a centre that is contemporary and engaging.

"It's our ambition to make the gallery a place of consequence in our community."

The refurbishment of the Hervey Bay Regional Gallery is a joint initiative of the council and the Queensland Government with $400,000 from the State Government's COVID Works for Queensland program being provided to undertake the works.

Further works are being funded from a successful insurance claim.