31st May 2004 - Estimates - Lara Giddings


CHAIR - Thank you. We will start with the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery. Mr Finch, if you would like to lead off?

Mr FINCH - Thanks, Madam Chair. My question is about plans for expansion of the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery. I remember it - that small sort of city block - from my own childhood. We have got this new exhibition - the Antarctic Exhibition - going in there, and I believe that it is starting to get cramped in that area there. I was wondering what the plans for expansion were, but now I am hearing more about Rosny. Can I just find out a little bit more about the move to Rosny, and how much is actually going out there? One danger sign see is that you are taking your museum and your opportunities, particularly for young people, out of the city.

Ms GIDDINGS - No. The Rosny Archives building was purchased from the Commonwealth Government and is now where a lot of the museum artefacts will be stored.

Mr FINCH - Okay.

Ms GIDDINGS - It won't actually be open to the public. There may be the instances where somebody is be allowed access to material stored there, but even that, I understand, is going to be relatively rare. It is really a place where they can have proper storage for a lot of the old materials, and the benefit of it is that it opens up so much more space within the city centre for other exhibitions. The Antarctic and Southern Ocean one is one of those new exhibitions that will be going into space now being freed up.

Mr FINCH - That storage has been going on at the city?

Ms GIDDINGS - Yes, it has been.

Mr FINCH - At the city site.

Ms GIDDINGS - Yes. I would say that virtually every nook and cranny you could find at the city site had something stored away there, waiting to come out again in an exhibition, like the current exhibition, Eclectica. This is a fantastic exhibition, if members have not been there already, and has provided the curators of the different sections with the opportunity to bring out items of special interest that have been stored away for many years.

Mr FINCH - Thinking about the site of the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery: there is a car park at one end, towards the Grand Chancellor, is there not?

Ms GIDDINGS - The Dunn Street site.

Mr FINCH - Who owns that? Does the Museum and Art Gallery control that site?

Ms KIRBY - The piece of land is currently a Hobart City Council site.

Mr FINCH - Okay. Would that be a future expansion opportunity for the Museum and Art Gallery?

Ms GIDDINGS - Yes, I can tell you a bit about that. In December 2003 the former Premier announced a study into the feasibility of the creation of a major cultural precinct on that Dunn Street site which is, as you said, adjacent to the Museum and Art Gallery. The precinct encompasses not only that particular site, but also other cultural sites within the immediate vicinity. Preliminary discussions have involved the State Library at Tasmania, the Archives Office of Tasmania and TMAG. There have been no formal decisions on the possible composition of the site, but the former Premier indicated that he wished to establish a steering group to investigate all possibilities.

The Government has provided $200 000 in this year's budget to enable planning for that cultural precinct to commence. As a result of the transfer of collections to Rosny, the Museum and Art Gallery is creating significant space within its existing complex, but it is stressed that these spaces may not be appropriate to raise to international museum standards for gallery control, owing to the heritage nature of the building. That is why, I think, TMAG would be quite keen to expand onto that Dunn Street site so that they could build a modern complex which has all those air conditioning requirements that you need if galleries overseas are to be willing to send some of their historic items or paintings to Hobart for exhibition. They will not do it unless you have the proper climate controls.

Mr FINCH - We have alluded to the Antarctic Southern Cross exhibition. Can we talk some more about the cost of setting it up, and what the recurring cost will be?

Ms GIDDINGS - The Government has allocated $600 000 for the initial set-up and that should enable TMAG to establish a world-class exhibition space dealing with the unique relationship that we have with Antarctica and the Southern Ocean. We also realise, though, that there needs to be recurrent expenditure as part of that package, which would help to fund a curator as well as an education officer, with a specific focus on the Antarctic. We have also put in $150 000 in recurrent expenditure that will assist us to have the first dedicated curator of Antarctica and the Southern Ocean in Australia. Part of the project, too, is the hope that we can start to build our own Antarctic repository. Long-term thinking is that could become the home of a national Antarctic repository but that is some way down the track. The first step is to set up a proper State repository, and the curator who is now being funded will have that as part of his or her job as well.

Mr FINCH - So there is about $1 million? Am I reading it correctly?

Ms GIDDINGS - There will be $600 000 for the set-up, and $150 000 for recurrent costs from then on. We expect that that exhibition will be opened around October/November of next year.

Mr FINCH - Okay. Is the 16.1 per cent increase in wages and salaries for the curator?

Ms GIDDINGS - It is for the curator and an education officer as well, because one aspect of the Antarctic Adventure Centre was an education program. Quite a number of schools visited it, so I was quite keen to make sure that we did not lose that resource from Hobart and Tasmania. That is why we worked with the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery to ensure that an education officer would be fundamental part of that exhibition.

Mr FINCH - What is going to happen when people come thee? Will they be paying to go and see the exhibition?

Ms GIDDINGS - No, it is part of the general Museum and Art Gallery, which has free access. It will be a permanent exhibition.

Mr FINCH - The John Glover Exhibition is on tour. Could you tell us something about the locations it is due to go to, and the cost of that exhibition?

Ms GIDDINGS - It is currently touring nationally. It is the most brilliant Australian art exhibition to tour nationally. The exhibition has been underwritten by Art Exhibitions Australia Limited, a national body that provides indemnity for insurance for high-value exhibitions, enabling them to travel throughout Australia.

During its Hobart season, the exhibition was visited by over 24 000 patrons, and in excess of 2 000 corporate and sponsor admissions were received. It is the largest paying art exhibition ever undertaken by the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery. The catalogue - John Glover and the Colonial Picturesque - sold in excess of 1 800 copies during the exhibition run in Hobart. I do not have a copy here. The total budget for the exhibition is $1.5 million approximately and, as I say, it has been unwritten by Art Exhibitions of Tasmania.

Ms KIRBY - Can I just add, if I could, the venues that that exhibition is going to? It is currently at the National Gallery of Australia. It started its tour here in Hobart, and then went to the Art Gallery of South Australia, which worked very closely with us in developing it, because they have very high Glover holdings, as well. It then went to, and is currently at, as I said, the National Gallery of Australia. From there it goes, and finally finishes its season in November, at the National Gallery of Victoria.

Mr FINCH - Do we recoup any money from door sales?

Ms KIRBY - We do not in terms of door sales as such. We certainly do in terms of merchandise sales, and so forth. As the minister has alluded to, the exhibition was underwritten by Art Exhibitions Australia. The exhibition itself, we believe - perhaps pre-emptively will actually generate a small profit, and that would in terms of things like merchandise. The catalogue has been very successful. Out of 2 000 that were printed here for Hobart, as the minister said, just over 1 800, I think, were sold at the exhibition, and the catalogue has sold equally well. The full print run of over 8 000 will sell out through the exhibition. The catalogue was developed in conjunction with the Art Gallery of South Australia, but the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery retains copyright of it, because it has an ongoing life here with us and our Glover holdings. Again, that will be to the benefit of the exhibition development.

Mr FINCH - There are performance measures for the Museum and Art Gallery on page 500. At the bottom of those figures we see that 134 060 people visited it in 2001-02. You have obviously been doing a lot of work there, encouraging a lot of people to come to the museum, and by 2003-04 your target was 255 000. For 2004-05, however, you have only increased that by another 2 000. I wonder why you are pessimistic about the target; or are you doing about as well as you can do?


Ms GIDDINGS - I think the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery has had some fantastic exhibitions over the past 12 months or so, and the John Glover was one which I thought was of such a high quality standard. It matched, if not bettered, other exhibitions I have seen around the world. Its use of technology was first-rate: they used head phones, and you could move around the exhibition and listen to tapes and stories about the various paintings. It was really well done. They also had the Fusion exhibition, as well, which was very significant and of a very high standard. I am happy to table a copy of the catalogue, which was an award-winner as well. I think you will find that the numbers that they got through those two exhibitions helped boost the general attendance for TMAG. They have set themselves a very high bar now, and by increasing it by 2 000 extra they have just upped it a bit more. I am sure they will achieve it, especially if they keep up with this sort of standard; it is just brilliant. So, I am happy to table that.

Mr FINCH - When people came to the exhibition, they bought that did they? What would that be retail?

Ms KIRBY - There were two versions of that, that is the soft cover one. That one retailed, I think for about $55. There was also a hard cover version, which I think was $89.

Mr FINCH - So you had good sales?

Ms KIRBY - Yes, and it is continuing to sell.

Ms GIDDINGS - It is 100 per cent produced in Tasmania, as well. As I said, it did gain an international award, the William M.B. Berger Prize for the most significant global achievement in British art literature for 2003.

Mr FINCH - In connection with those figures, I am curious about the coming exhibition, the Antarctic and Southern Oceans exhibition. When is it going to be up and running, and drawing the numbers into TMAG?

Ms GIDDINGS - It is anticipated it will commence in October/November next year.

Mr FINCH - Next year?

Ms GIDDINGS - Yes. So we will probably look at maybe increasing the target after that. Not that I want to pre-empt the budget for next year. We have not even got through this year's yet.