3.2 Tasmania Thursday 20th June 2007
 Estimates Committee B (Wriedt) - Part 2

 Redevelopment of the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery

Ms WRIEDT - I welcome to the table Bill Bleathman, Director of the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery.

Mr FINCH - In respect to the $30 million that was allocated for the redevelopment of the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, where are we now in the scheme of things? I think it was planned for to start in the 2007-08 Budget after the planning had been done so I am curious to know how the planning has taken shape, where we are with the building and how the funding allocation has taken place?

Ms WRIEDT - We have appointed Root Projects Australia as project directors and they are highly regarded, particularly for really important cultural institutions. They have worked on projects such as the Australian War Memorial and the Art Gallery of New South Wales and so on so they have a fine track record. We also have an acting project manager who has been appointed within the museum.

Mr FINCH - Did you say an acting project manager?

Ms WRIEDT - Yes.

Mr BLEATHMAN - We are actually interviewing next Monday for the position so there is someone acting in that role until then.

Ms WRIEDT - At the moment we are calling for expressions of interest for the development of a detailed master plan design for the site. We have on that site housing TMAG some of the most historic buildings in the country. Despite what the member said previously about the most historic buildings in the country being in Launceston, we believe we have one of the most significant collections of historic buildings on one site –

Mr FINCH - Yes, from the 1960s.

Laughter .

Ms WRIEDT - at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery. So we certainly need to progress a master plan design which is going to be sensitive to that. We have had a number of staff already look at museum developments in other places. When I was in New Zealand for a cultural ministers' meeting at the end of last year I looked at the Museum of Land and Sea in Wellington, which is a really good example of what you can do with a bond store building because they have a very similar building that they redeveloped only about five years ago for that. So there are a lot of ideas and we will start to see some archaeological work take place in this financial year. Bill, do you want to add to that?

Mr BLEATHMAN - As the minister has said, the critical thing at the moment is because the site has such rich heritage value the focus is on a range of heritage issues and there is an archaeological survey commencing, albeit a desktop survey at this stage, including a site and contaminants survey, all of those sort of structural things that you need before you move in. The site houses seven heritage buildings and our aim is to make the visitor experience more than a one-dimensional objects-based display, something that respects the land that the buildings are on because of the 35 000 years of Aboriginal habitation.

The buildings that are on the land, as the Minister has said, are seven of the most heritage buildings on the one site in Australia, but nobody knows that because they are chock full of collections until we are able to move those to our new storage facility. We have some of the finest museum collections, certainly in Australia but, in some instances, the world. So it is more about foundation tools in the stage we are calling for next year's allocation.
[3.45 p.m.]

Mr FINCH - So perhaps some time lines. Can we get a feel of how long this project is going to take and over what sort of period? What are the projections for getting the project under way and completed?

Ms WRIEDT - As you know, it is a $30 million project and, whilst there was some initial funding last year, the majority of it is starting from this year and we anticipate that the $30 million redevelopment will be completed within that three-year time frame.

Mr FINCH - So how much do you think will be expended in this next budget year?

Ms WRIEDT - We are going to do our best to spend the $8.7 million that has been allocated. We love a challenge.

Mrs RATTRAY-WAGNER - Minister, is the $30 million that was referred to in last year's budget exactly the same $30 million that is in this year's budget?

Ms WRIEDT - Yes, this is the first tranche of the $30 million in this year.

Mrs RATTRAY-WAGNER - I was looking at it thinking you had had two lots of $30 million but that is not so.

Ms WRIEDT - No - don't get me all excited.

Mrs RATTRAY-WAGNER - Given that there is a female minister in charge of the budget I am sure we will get rid of that $8 million.

Mr FINCH - The only other question that I have, Chair, is in respect of the performance information on table 12.8. In 2005-06 there were 883 visitors per day but the target for this year is only 880 so there is a very minor diminution, but is this attributable to that renovation work that is going on? I suppose what I am curious about is the accommodation of tourists who are coming there now. While this work is going on and the renovations take place, will there still be the facility there for people to come and view and have an experience at the Museum and Art Gallery?

Ms WRIEDT - Absolutely. We will minimise the disruption as much as we can but there is work that goes on from time to time there anyway and we manage to organise around it. Last year we had a Huon pine collection which was purchased for the museum through a philanthropic donation from the Museum of Old and New Art at Moorilla. There was some work that needed to be done to accommodate that and we were able to section that off whilst that work took place to provide the appropriate facilities, so we will minimise the disruption to people.

Mr BLEATHMAN - Certainly the work itself in many cases, particularly the archaeology, would be a public program in itself, so the redevelopment may have the effect of encouraging more people to come in.

Ms WRIEDT - Yes, to watch the archaeological dig and things. That sort of thing happens at Port Arthur at the moment. The archaeological digs over summer with the graduates who come from around the country are a key part of the visitor experience where they go to watch the budding archaeologists at work.

Mr FINCH - Will you have guides and people giving descriptions of what is occurring?

Ms WRIEDT - Yes.

Mr BLEATHMAN - It will be a fully integrated public program. A fundamental part of any public program is how you interpret it to the public so we will certainly have guides, contractors, consultants, whatever you like.

Ms WRIEDT - We want to encourage them to come back and have a look at the finished product as well, so we give them that ownership of it while it is occurring.