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Christchurch City Council Media Release 13 February 2002

Future of Robert McDougall Art Gallery building up for discussion

The future use of the Robert McDougall Art Gallery building is up for discussion and the City Council wants to hear the public’s views.

The McDougall closes its doors as the City's public art gallery on 16 June 2002 with the new Christchurch Art Gallery due to formally open in April 2003.

The Council is calling for submissions on possible future uses of the heritage building, compatible with its special character.

The Canterbury Museum has already made a formal approach to the City Council to use the McDougall as an extension to the museum complex. It wants to use the space to display a significant portion of the collections currently in storage because of lack of room.

Future uses have also been discussed with the direct descendants of Robert McDougall. The family has confirmed a desire for wide community use of the building to continue.

Discussions have also taken place informally with a number of interested heritage groups, and representatives of Friends of the Botanic Gardens.

City Council property manager Rob Dally says any decision made will be following consultation with the community.

“The Council has resolved to seek the views of the public by calling for submissions on alternative compatible uses, as well as on the museum proposal.”

Compatible uses refer to the special character of the building. The purpose built art gallery is a Group One listed heritage building in the City Plan and is registered as a Category One Historic Place by the New Zealand Historic Places Trust Pouhere Taonga.

Its exhibition spaces have not been altered since construction more than 70 years ago. An administration wing, the Canaday Wing, was added in 1982. A conservation plan has been prepared to help protect the heritage features of the building as well as assist with adaptations for future use.

Any change in use of the building must also meet with Parliamentary approval. The original 1925 Act of Parliament allowed the Council to use the land for the purpose of an art gallery. The Council will draft a local bill for Parliamentary approval for wider use of the building, once it has heard and considered submissions.

A Council sub-committee will hear submissions on possible future uses in May. A draft bill will then be circulated to interested individuals and groups for consideration in July. A formal notification period will take place in September and the bill sent to Parliament in October.

Submission process Closed, but busy

The months between the closure of the Robert McDougall Art Gallery and the occupation of the new Christchurch Art Gallery will be a busy time.

The additional space made possible by the closure of the McDougall will allow room for art works in storage in the basement due to lack of space, to be checked and catalogued.

The extra space will also allow archival material, such as letters and books from the McDougall library to be sorted out and documented.

From late November, five months before opening, more than 5500 works will be relocated to the new gallery. Checks will be made of ventilation, fire detection and security systems. Staff will be trained and the permanent collection, as well as major temporary exhibitions, installed.

For more information: Peter Mitchell, Legal Services Manager, Christchurch City Council, PO Box 237, Phone 941 854, or by email to

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