Leighton Smith, The Morning Bulletin
15 August 2019
LADIES and gentlemen, start your sledge hammers.
Pleased as punch Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack, Capricornia MP Michelle Landry, and Rockhampton Regional Council mayor Margaret Strelow, had a therapeutic hammering session in the soon-to-be demolished Rockhampton CBD building at 212 Quay St yesterday.
The building will make way for a new three-storey Rockhampton Art Galley housing the city’s prized collection of over 400 art works, which is currently gathering cobwebs in storage at the old gallery building. The $31.5 million project, which comprised of a $10 million federal contribution, $13 million from the State Government and $8.5 million from Rockhampton Regional Council, was anticipated to generate 170 jobs in construction and 165 ongoing.
Mr McCormack said the gallery would one of the best regional galleries in the country, attracting thousands of tourists from around Australia and around the world.
“I’ve been told that visitor numbers are going to increase from 41,000 to 90,000 every year,” Mr McCormack said.
“People are going to flock to see the art works on display at this state of the art regional gallery.
“I’m looking forward to coming back in mid-November to turn the first sod when the (demolition) gets finished.”
Mr McCormack said the project would feature spacious lower and upper galleries, three areas with educational exhibits, a restaurant and a gift shop.
Once the Rockhampton Art Gallery was relocated from its current outdated facility on Victoria Parade, Ms Landry said it would become the main feature of the new cultural precinct in the city’s CBD.
“This will allow the Art Gallery to better showcase and preserve its nationally significant collection in an area that will complement the CBD, Quay St and the riverfront, while also connecting the heritage-significant Customs House with contemporary art and culture,” Ms Landry said.
“Well done to council, the plans look simply incredible,” she said.
Cr Strelow said the new gallery, which was designed by one of Australia’s best architects, will be complementary to its iconic neighbour the Customs House, with plans to use rough-finished stone sourced from the same quarry.