Known as one of the country’s most important heritage buildings, the Sarjeant Art Gallery has been closed for the past five years because it was deemed an earthquake risk. However, thanks to a recently announced gift from the Provincial Growth Fund this prized attraction will be opened sooner than expected.
A $12 million fund was given to the art gallery to begin construction, and will even provide the means to open a new wing.
“It means we can start the programme of construction in the next couple of months and that programme is to complete the build by mid-2022,” Sarjeant Gallery project director Gaye Batty told 1 NEWS.
Whanganui is home to around 100 heritage listed places, and Helen Craig from the Whanganui Regional Heritage Trust said if the government doesn’t start saving these buildings now they will lose them.
“I do think that regional growth fund could have a big part to play here,” she says, while also calling for more financial support to help with remedial work and to further increase heritage funding.
Not only is the reopening of the Sarjeant Art Gallery vital to the cultural heritage of Whanganui, it will also help preserve a significant tourist site in the provincial city.