Gallery needs a £26.5m refit - claim

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THREATENED Graves Art Gallery needs up to £26.5 million of work to make it “fit for purpose”, the Sheffield councillor responsible for museums has claimed.

Coun Roger Davison, cabinet member for culture, sport and tourism, said its home in the Central Library building, on Surrey Street, has been “underinvested in for decades” and does not comply with the Disability Discrimination Act.

He said the council does not want to see Graves Gallery closed but admitted it could be “mothballed” or changes made.

Such changes could include the council taking over the gallery from Museums Sheffield, the trust which is considering closing it as part of £328,000 savings required over the next year.

Coun Davison said: “The building has been underinvested for years and years, and water is leaking, which is putting some of the paintings at risk, so a number of items have had to be removed.

“There is a £700,000 project by the council, which has been approved, to re-roof the building, but much more investment is required.

“The building is not fit for purpose and work needed to bring it up to modern standards will cost £26.5m. One of the big things is that it is not Disability Discrimination Act compliant. The lift is too small and disabled people have to use the tradesmen’s lift at the back.”

But he accepted the work to make it fully accessible, while desirable, was not needed immediately and funding would be difficult to obtain in the current financial climate.

A decision would be taken at a meeting between the council and Museums Sheffield at the end of March.

“We do not want to close the gallery but mothballing is another option. The valuable paintings are having to be moved out temporarily until work to repair the roof has been completed.”