Leaking museum roof poses ‘serious threat’ to multi-million pound art collection

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A multi-million pound art collection could be ‘seriously endangered’ if more than £ 1million is not spent on the roof of the Bury Art Museum.

Bury’s advisers are expected to approve the museum’s request for funds to support a request for funding to repair the leaky roof, which will come from reserves meant to help the arts.

Museum owners will ask Art’s Council England’s Museum Estate and Development (MEND) fund for support to help renovate the gallery’s roof.

A report to the consultancy firm by Sarah Evans, head of arts and museums in Bury, detailed the gravity of the situation in the historic Grade II listed building.

She said: “The roof of the gallery needs urgent attention to prevent water infiltration which, if left unchecked, will cause significant damage to the building and pose a serious threat to the collections of the district located there.

“The water inlet also affects the library service, on the ground floor, causing disturbances as the water descended to the electrical panel.

“Vulnerable works in the collection have been removed from the exhibition in areas of the gallery most at risk.

“If work is not undertaken within 18 months, it will escalate and potentially result in limited access to the works on display and restricted access to gallery areas for the safety of staff and visitors.

“The repair work helped in the short term but did not solve the fundamental problems. “



The interior of the museum suffered damage from water infiltration (Photo: Bury Art Museum)

The museum is applying to the MEND fund to support the work.

If successful they will receive around £ 800,000 and a further £ 201,000 from the Bury Council capital reserve will be needed to cover costs.

If MEND funding is not received, the board will recommend that all costs be covered by the board’s capital budget.

The Bury Art Museum opened in 1901 and was specially designed to display the Wrigley collection of Victorian art offered to the inhabitants of Bury.

A condition of the donation was that a gallery be built to house it.

The Wrigley Collection contains works by influential British painters including JMW Turner, John Constable, Sir Edwin Landseer and Sir George Clausen.

The importance of the works in the collection has been recognized nationally and internationally and is valued at over £ 25million.

There are approximately 2,000 works of art and 60,000 museum objects in the collection with selections on display continuously.

Ms Evans’ report said the building’s design could not cope with the newer weather conditions.

She said: “The architecture of the Victorian roof was not designed to accommodate the sudden downpours and high volume of rainwater that we are currently experiencing due to climate change.

“There is visible damage to the interior which has gradually worsened over the past year.

“Ornamental plasters falling from upper floors pose a serious threat to the health and safety of staff and visitors.

“Internal repairs cannot be considered until the roof structure and the resulting water infiltration are rectified. “

From the council’s capital reserve, £ 547,000 is earmarked for artistic activities.

This money was set aside for the arts department following the sale of LS Lowry’s painting A Riverbank, which was sold by Bury Council in 2006.


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