One year into construction, Rocky Museum of Art takes shape
QUAY Street's fast growing, scaffolding-surrounded $31.5 million Rockhampton Museum of Art is an impressive sight one year on from sledgehammers punching through walls of the old building which stood in its place.
According to Woollam Constructions Rockhampton regional manager Clinton Bloomfield, construction has been ticking over nicely with the building now up to its third story and the roof expected to be in place by the end of September.
If the weather is favourable, Mr Bloomfield anticipates construction to be complete by late March 2021, after which time, the doors will be thrown open to reveal the impressive collection of artwork gathered together by Rockhampton's former mayor Rex Pilbeam.
He said they had successfully overcome several challenges in realising the project, especially during the demolition and excavation phases.
The project has proven to be a boon for the Rockhampton region with more than 300 workers inducted onto the site after a hiring spree of tradies and contract partners, and millions paid to local suppliers.
"To date we've put in over 2200 cubic metres of concrete and approximately 200t of reinforcement," Mr Bloomfield said.
"We're very big on ensuring we use locals and that helps the economy in Rockhampton."
Woollam managing director Craig Percival estimated 800 tradespeople were expected to be inducted to the site over the 84 week course of the project.
"The sandstone building facade is from the quarry in Stanwell - this is exceptionally unique work using traditional stonemasons," Mr Percival said.
"At the halfway point we are well on schedule and over the next few months we will see the design really starting to take shape.
"We have not missed a beat during the coronavirus global pandemic and this is thanks to our team at Woollam and the incredible work of local contract partners including Capricorn Sandstone Quarries, JRT Civil, Stanke Group Electrics, Pierce Engineering, Larges Furniture, McAlister & Burford, AE Smith, Stresscrete, Jett Building Solutions, Trend Floors and many more.
"Thanks must also go to the local community for their patience - together with Council we have been working closely with neighbours to ensure they're well informed, and their acceptance of our project team in the area is much appreciated.''
Rockhampton Mayor Margaret Strelow said the architecturally-designed three-storey building featuring a 4700 square metre construction was one of the biggest the region had seen for some time.
"Rockhampton Museum of Art will be a community hub for the visual arts so I think it is fitting that this project involves a large number of trades and suppliers from the local area in its construction and fit-outs," Cr Strelow said.
"This project is not only creating jobs and helping the economy during the COVID-19 downturn, but it will continue to pay dividends for Rockhampton region and beyond in years to come as a source of local pride and drawcard for tourists."
>> READ: Rocky's new art gallery taking shape
The Rockhampton Museum of Art was funded by the Australian Government through the Building Better Regions Fund; the Queensland Government through Arts Queensland and through the Building Our Regions program; and Rockhampton Regional Council.
Capricornia MP Michelle Landry was excited to see how far the project had progressed, thanks to co-operation between the three levels of government.
"Congratulations to Rockhampton Regional Council on this outstanding piece of artwork in itself," Ms Landry said.
"(The gallery is) going to be absolutely amazing looking over the banks of the Fitzroy River.
"Rockhampton has an extensive collection of artwork which will be able to be showcased, students will be able to have lessons in there, and there's going to be a lot of facilities for the public."
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the construction of the Rockhampton Museum of Art was an important part of Queensland's economic recovery plan.
"It's because we're continuing to manage the health response that we're able to focus on our economic recovery," Ms Palaszczuk said.
"At the heart of that plan is a $50 billion guarantee to invest in large infrastructure projects that will support and sustain jobs for Queenslanders for years to come.
"The Rockhampton Museum of Art is doing just that, helping to boost jobs in the Rockhampton region as work continues on the new building.
"My government's commitment of $15 million for this important project is an investment in the region now and into the future."
Rockhampton MP Barry O'Rourke said the project providing local jobs was more important now than ever.
"As well as construction jobs for tradies, the project will also deliver a significant boost to the local economy through cultural and tourism outcomes for years to come as it becomes home to one of the nation's leading regional collections," he said.
Minister for the Arts Leeanne Enoch said the Rockhampton Museum of Art would provide the region with the opportunity to experience new exhibitions and support local artists.
"One of the first exhibitions planned will feature the work of leading Queensland artist Luke Roberts, who comes from the Central Queensland region," Ms Enoch said.
"The exhibition is supported with funding of $49,800 through the Palaszczuk Government's Queensland Arts Showcase Program (QASP) and will open in 2022."
When completed, the Rockhampton Museum of Art, will be six times the size of the existing gallery and house the works of some of Australia's most significant artists including Margaret Olley, Arthur Boyd, Russell Drysdale, Sidney Nolan, and Jeffrey Smart.
It will feature two large flexible gallery spaces, three multipurpose education spaces, a restaurant and retail space and a function area on the top floor overlooking the Fitzroy River.