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Report highlights risk of damage to Art Gallery of WA $300 million collection

Report highlights risk of damage to Art Gallery of WA $300 million collection
May 29, 2018

Western Australia's $300 million art collection is at risk of damage or loss thanks to a lack of storage space and appropriate conservation, according to a recently released report from the State’s Auditor-General.

The report from acting Western Australian Auditor-General Sandra Labuschange, said the collection was at risk because of "storage, conservation and monitoring issues".

It found the Art Gallery of Western Australia (AGWA), which manages the collection, does not know where all its works are stored nor what condition they are in as a result its accessions database being incomplete and no stocktake having been undertaken since 2010.

However, AGWA Director and Chief Executive Dr Stefano Carboni said there were only 10 items out of the near-18,000 works that did not have a location recorded in the database.

The report also noted problems with storage, advising "AGWA struggles to balance its responsibilities to grow and also preserve the state's $300 million art collection.

"A significant shortage of appropriate storage space places artworks at risk of damage from not being stored in line with industry standards, and limits access to the collection for conservation work and public engagement."

The report found many examples of overcrowded storage areas and art being stored in aisles and walkways, adding "AGWA does not have a plan to ensure all artworks are conserved, with conservation almost entirely focused on the small part of the collection going on display each year."

Labuschange said the findings were a serious concern, commenting “we have a $300 million asset of the state which isn't being properly conserved and looked after.

"Generally, people tend to down play this type of asset because it's art, but if we had a public building in that same condition we would not be happy."

She said the report did not consider any works that may have been damaged as a result of storage management.

In its reply, AGWA accepted the findings on the need to improve the care and management of the collection, and the need to broaden its access.

It said it recognised the "critical" need for additional storage and was working with the Government to find a "speedy" offsite solution.

AGWA said there was scope to improve its recordkeeping and it was working to implement improvements to its system.

It said it was working to develop an improved stocktake system and "control" of art works by June 2019.

29th October 2016 - WESTERN AUSTRALIA LAUNCHES NEW STRATEGIC DIRECTION FOR THE ARTS

11th October 2016 - ART GALLERY OF WESTERN AUSTRALIA VISITOR NUMBERS DROP BY 100,000 OVER THREE YEARS

1st August 2016 - ARCHITECTS UNVEIL DESIGN FOR PERTH’S NEW WA MUSEUM

8th May 2016 - WESTERN AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT COMMITS $30 MILLION IN EVENTS FUNDING

15th April 2015 - WESTERN AUSTRALIA LOOKS TO SET NEW STRATEGIC DIRECTION FOR THE ARTS

26th March 2015 - WESTERN AUSTRALIAN COUNCILS FUND THE ARTS, BUT WITHOUT STRATEGY

15th November 2014 - NEW PUBLIC SQUARE IN PERTH CBD TO BE EVENT AND TOURISM HUB

25th February 2014 - WESTERN AUSTRALIAN ENTERTAINMENT VENUES 'IN LIMBO'

29th August 2013 - PERTH NEEDS MASSIVE INCREASE IN PERFORMING ARTS VENUES TO MEET AUDIENCE DEMAND

14th September 2010 - HIGH-POWERED ARTS LOBBY FOR WA 


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