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New Hamilton Gallery and CBD Rejuvenation Plans move forward

17 November 2022

Southern Grampians Shire Council endorsed plans to move forward with a new Hamilton Gallery, confirming intentions to build on its current site and progress a CBD rejuvenation with it at last week’s Council meeting.

Setting in motion the long-awaited aspiration for an improved Gallery to house the Shire’s significant collection, Council will now move forward to detailed designs.

Designs will include a new Gallery on its current site, the development of a civic precinct on Council land to the rear of Council’s Brown Street buildings, with streets such as Gray, Brown, Lonsdale and Thompson to be revamped.

Council’s purchase of 90 Lonsdale Street in 2021 will play a significant role with the facility to house a new Digital Hub, Library, Cinema, and office spaces which will also serve as a government hub in Hamilton.

The CBD location will support the broader Council vision for the activation with the development of a vibrant and connected civic precinct the community can be proud of.

The CBD will become a community hub with easy walking and cycling, highlighted with a civic square, public art, signage and greenspaces.

Southern Grampians Shire Council Mayor Cr David Robertson said Council believe progressing a new build on the existing site is a positive step forward.

“Having explored multiple options for this project, we believe this plan is the right outcome and will support the growth and development of our community for generations to come,” said Cr Robertson.

“Not only is the new Gallery on this site feasible and more cost effective than other investigated site options, the location will support the broader Council vision for the activation and renewal of our CBD.

“Our integrated intentions for a renewed CBD and new Gallery at the current site interlocks the Gallery into the everyday life of Hamilton.

“Council has explored the Lake and alternative CBD locations as possible sites, however these options were determined to be unsuitable. We resolved last year to undertake the necessary feasibility and engineering analysis for a build on the current site, and this has ultimately allowed us to produce the best possible solution for our community.

“The possibilities for the New Gallery development in this location is really promising. We know galleries attract tourists, and thus we'll see a positive economic flow in jobs and opportunities for business from tourists visiting the region, while making arts and cultural spaces accessible for everyone which will be hugely beneficial.

“The current building is no longer fit for purpose to display and store such valuable works with issues including lack of display space for larger exhibitions, storage limitations, climate control issues and limited space for community engagement.

“The proposed location with a footprint of approximately 5,800m2 will not only meet these needs, but will also provide spaces for artists in residence which is an exciting concept for the future of arts and culture in the region,” said Cr Robertson.

Opened in 1961, Hamilton Gallery recently celebrated its 60th anniversary. This new build is the first significant infrastructure investment since 1978.

Cr Robertson stated, “The cost of the new Gallery won’t be known until detailed designs are completed, but we do know from the feasibility work undertaken that it can be built at this location for substantially less than the previous location options investigated by Council. Irrespective of the cost, Council will be heavily reliant on funding from the State and Federal Governments as well as philanthropic funding to deliver a new Gallery.

“These projects will transform Hamilton, developing a vibrant, active and engaging CBD for residents and tourists,” concluded Cr Robertson.

Hamilton Gallery Trustee Dr Sue Robertson said the Trust are very pleased Council have decided to build a new Gallery.

“We have an amazing collection that requires a great facility so community and visitors have the opportunity to immerse themselves in the collection, while experiencing programs that educate, challenge, illuminate and represent our unique culture within Southern Grampians,” said Dr Robertson.

Friends of the Hamilton Gallery President, Jacqui de Kievit said they were proud of the Hamilton Gallery and collection.

“This is an incredibly exciting announcement from Council. We are so proud of our gallery and the quality of its collection and look to the future with confidence knowing that a new build will safeguard our heritage and bring Hamilton prosperity and good fortune,” said Mrs de Kievit.

“The Friends membership has supported the new gallery proposal for the past 10 years and this is a very important moment for us all. Next year will be the 50th Anniversary of the Friends and we will celebrate with renewed vigour.

“The Friends of Hamilton Gallery will strongly support Council through the design process and advocacy to raise the necessary funding,” concluded Mrs de Kievit.

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