Work un­cov­ers lay­ers of gallery’s his­tory

Central Leader - - News - By Jo­ce­lyn Rein

The stripped-back Auck­land Art Gallery showed a glimpse into the city’s his­tory dur­ing her­itage week.

One year af­ter the start of a $113 mil­lion up­grade, a me­dia tour around the site showed how work was pro­gress­ing.

The de­vel­op­ment in­cludes restora­tion, strength­en­ing and mod­erni­sa­tion of the 1887 and 1916 com­po­nents of the build­ing, as well as ex­ten­sive new works.

Art gallery di­rec­tor Chris Saines says at the mo­ment the site is a bit like vis­it­ing an­cient Rome, with lay­ers upon lay­ers of her­itage struc­tures vis­i­ble.

“We’ve ef­fec­tively taken the build­ing back to 1916 and then moved for­ward,” he says.

A spi­ral stair­case at the apex of the Welles­ley St and Kitch­ener St wings that has been cov­ered up for sev­eral years is to be made avail­able for pub­lic view­ing.

An im­pres­sive fea­ture of the fin­ished gallery will be the re­in­state­ment of the 1916 east gallery which is be­ing recre­ated based on orig­i­nal plans and pho­tos.

Mr Saines says the old gallery had been so of­ten “added to and sub­tracted from” there were 17 dif­fer­ent floor heights through­out the build­ing but this will now be lev­elled down to six.

Once com­pleted in mid-2011, the gallery will pro­vide 50 per­cent more ex­hi­bi­tion space, hous­ing up to 900 art­works.

Coun­cil­lor and art gallery board chair­woman Noelene Raf­fills says now the most sen­si­tive her­itage stages of the project have been com­pleted, work will be­gin on the first level of the mod­ern ex­ten­sion and the sec­ond floor should be in place by Christ­mas.

One year on: Work is un­der way on the her­itage wings of the art gallery and will soon be­gin on the new ex­ten­sion.

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