MULTI-MILLION: Leaky museum roof poses ‘serious threat’ to art collection
Bury Art Musuem, Image: LDRS
A collection of pieces of art worth millions of pounds could be under ‘serious threat’ if more than £1m is not spent on the roof of Bury Art Museum.
Bury councillors are expected to approve the museum’s request for cash to support a funding application to fix the leaky roof, which will come from reserves earmarked for helping the arts.
Museum bosses will apply to Art’s Council England’s Museum Estate and Development (MEND) fund for support to enable the renovation of the gallery’s roof.
A report to the council’s cabinet by Sarah Evans, Bury’s arts and museums officer, detailed the severity of the situation at the historic Grade II listed building.
She said: “The gallery’s roof needs urgent attention to stop water ingress which if left unchecked will lead to significant damage to the building and poses a serious threat to the borough’s collections held within.
“The water ingress also effects the library service, on the ground floor, causing disruption as the water made its way down to the electrical switchboard.
“Vulnerable work from the collection has been removed from display in areas of the gallery that are most at risk.
“If work is not undertaken within 18 months, this will escalate and potentially leading to limited access to work on display and restricted access to areas for the gallery for the safety of both staff and visitors.
“Remedial works have helped short term but have not addressed the core problems.”
The museum is applying to the MEND fund to support the work.
If successful, they will receive around £800,000 and an additional £201,000 of Bury Council’s capital reserve will be needed to meet the cost.
If the funding from MEND is not received, the council are set to recommend that the entire costs are met from the council’s capital budget.
Bury Art Museum opened in 1901 and was purpose-built to display the Wrigley Collection of Victorian art gifted to the people of Bury.
A condition of the gift was that a gallery was built to house it.
The Wrigley Collection contains work of influential British painters including JMW Turner, John Constable, Sir Edwin Landseer and Sir George Clausen.
The significance of the works in the collection has been recognised both nationally and internationally and it is valued at more than £25m.
There are around 2,000 works of art and 60,000 museum objects in the collection with selections on continuous display.
Ms Evans’ report said that the design of the building could not cope with more recent weather patterns.
She said: “The Victorian roof architecture was not designed to accommodate the sudden deluges and high volume of rainwater that we are now experiencing due to climate change.
“There is visible damage internally which has progressively worsened over past year.
“The ornamental plasterwork falling from upper levels poses a serious health and safety threat to both staff and visitors.
“Internal repairs cannot be contemplated until the structure of the roof and consequent water ingress is rectified.”
Of the council’s capital reserve, £547,000 is earmarked for arts activity.
This money was set aside for the arts service following the sale of the painting A Riverbank by LS Lowry, which was sold by Bury Council in 2006.
Words: Chris Gee, Local Democracy Reporter
Watch the channel on TV