Expansion project moves underground as mine remediation kicks off at Newcastle Art Gallery

Expansion project moves underground as mine remediation kicks off at Newcastle Art Gallery

Early construction works that will pave the way for a $40 million expansion have kicked off at Newcastle Art Gallery.

Fencing has been erected and a specialist drill rig has been installed on site to begin the process of remediating abandoned mine workings underneath the Art Gallery.

Newcastle Lord Mayor, Nuatali Nelmes said the remediation was a crucial step to ensure the safety of the site ahead of the main expansion works, which are expected to begin in mid-2023.

“Newcastle’s long coal mining heritage means that much of the city centre sits on top of a number of historical underground mine workings, which date back as far as the early 1800s,” Nuatali said.

“Remediating these coal seams in the early stages of this project will ensure the long-term stability and protection of the expanded Art Gallery and its nationally significant $126 million collection, which has been relocated into secure off-site storage for the duration of the work.

“We have been waiting more than 16 years to see this expansion come to fruition, so it is exciting to see this significant step being taken, paving the way for the main construction work to begin next year.

“By doubling the size of the Gallery, significantly increasing the exhibition space and delivering a suite of modern facilities, this project will deliver an expanded and upgraded Gallery of international standing that will offer a valuable cultural tourism opportunity for Newcastle and the Hunter.”

Newcastle Art Gallery’s $40 million expansion project will deliver an additional 1,600 square metres of exhibition space with dedicated areas for the Gallery’s significant collection on the lower level, while the upper level will cater for a variety of temporary exhibitions, showcasing local, national, and international artists.

The project includes a new café and retail shop, multi-purpose and educational program space, a secure international standard loading dock, and will extend the building’s footprint east along Darby Street and Queen Street.

The remediation is expected to be completed in the first half of 2023, subject to weather, and will target the six and a half metre thick Borehole Coal Seam, which sits around 75 metres below ground level, and the one-metre-thick Dudley Coal Seam located around 27 metres below ground.

More than 100 bores will be drilled throughout the site to allow approximately 15,000 cubic metres of grout to be deployed into the seams as part of the expansion project’s Grouting and Verification Plan approved by Subsidence Advisory New South Wales.

City of Newcastle has successfully applied for funding through the NSW Government’s Newcastle Mines Grouting Fund, which will contribute to the cost of the remediation.

While the Gallery car park has been closed for the duration of the work, the car park on Queen Street behind Newcastle Library remains open, with access monitored by traffic controllers to ensure the safety of visitors to Darby Street and the Library. Other alternative parking can be found nearby on Tyrell Street.

Shortlisted applicants from the expression of interest process will be invited to tender for the main construction works later this year.


IMAGE | Newcastle Art Gallery Foundation Chair, Suzie Galwey; Newcastle Art Gallery Director, Lauretta Morton; City of Newcastle Project Manager, Matthew Bennett; Newcastle Lord Mayor, Nuatali Nelmes; and Daracon workers at the site where mine void remediation work is taking place ahead of the Art Gallery’s $40 million expansion.

City of Newcastle

In 2030, Newcastle will be a smart, liveable and sustainable city.

Council developed and adopted a suite of strategic documents to guide delivery of Council's seven key strategic directions, outlined in the Newcastle 2030 Community Strategic Plan.

  •  A Connected City
  •  A Protected and Enhanced Environment
  •  Vibrant and Activated Public Places
  •  A Caring and Inclusive Community
  •  A Liveable and Distinctive Built Environment
  •  A Smart and Innovative City
  •  Open and Collaborative Leadership

This planning strategy has assisted in the delivery of a City Revitalisation Program that has encouraged a large investment in the City by both Government and private investors that are willing to prove that Newcastle is ready for change.   

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