Shire calls for art gallery plan

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THERE is “movement at the station” of Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery with the shire last week advertising for a “concept design and landscape precinct plan for the redevelopment and expansion” of the peninsula’s premier art centre.

The shire’s advertisement in the tender section of The Age stated: “The design should facilitate a good public environment for the community users and visitors, through the application of best design practises [sic].

“Consultants will also develop a business case and project delivery plan for the redevelopment and providing [sic] a detailed and well-supported case for investment in the project by government and potential private investors.”

Tenders close on 16 October.

The advertisement restarts a process that has stalled several times since 2007 when expansion was first mooted, and the shire started a process to redevelop Civic Reserve including expansion of its art gallery.

Stage one of Civic Reserve redevelopment was completed in 2014 and opened on 11 December. Mainly for sport, it cost $8.5 million and included doubling the size of the reserve’s recreation centre for gymnastics and table tennis as well as a new home for Mornington Tennis Club (12 courts and clubrooms), two multi-purpose rooms, a fitness studio, kiosk, internal and external social areas, upgraded car park, and landscaping.

Three years ago, it was feared the shire’s proposed $40 million plus aquatic centre at Rosebud would take the lion’s share of the capital works budget for several years and stall developments such as the gallery. The aquatic centre is on hold while the shire again looks at potential sites.

The art gallery started life in 1969 as Mornington Peninsula Arts Centre in an old house in Vancouver St, Mornington, later demolished and now a car park behind the library and shire office.

It moved to the council-owned Victorian era house Oak Hill on Mornington-Tyabb Rd in 1971. The existing gallery in Civic Reserve was built in 1991 and opened by then Labor premier John Cain.

One of the driving forces behind the gallery was the late artist, art critic and author Alan McCulloch of Shoreham, who was its director 1970-1992.

First published in the Mornington News – 6 October 2015

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