A half-million-dollar grant for Hamilton's iconic art gallery marks the first major step towards a complete building upheaval decades in the making.
The venue today received a $550,000 grant from the Victorian Government's $4 million Regional Collections Access Program.
NGV head of conservation Michael Varcoe-Cocks said the grant would go towards basic infrastructure upgrades which would pave the way for further collaboration and collections to tour the region.
"This is really exciting," Mr Varcoe-Cocks said.
"The money goes to upgrading the lighting system and the environmental climate in the gallery.
"It's a really important milestone for lending institutions like ourselves with big collections, we have responsibilities for our trustees, obviously we have our policies and we have limitations from our insurers.
"For us to lend to institutions like this require a certain level of parameters to be met. For facilities like this which are ageing, it's a hard thing to make happen.
"This investment from this program is trying to get these institutions over the line. It opens the door for further collaboration between the institutions and it means things like Indigenous collections can be toured as well."
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Southern Grampians Shire mayor Bruach Colliton said the funding would help preserve the more than 9000 items in the gallery's collection while plans for a new building were underway.
He said a council decision on a new, bigger gallery would be finalised by September.
"The move has been two decades in the making," Cr Colliton said.
"Council have gone through all sorts of concept plans, right through to a huge iconic building at the Hamilton Lake. That was a proposal we put to the community, we've looked into a whole lot of designs.
"Council's committed now to placing it in the CBD, we're just really looking for the best layout for the whole CBD and where everything goes to really maximise it and bring as many people here as we can.
"We don't know if it'll be a separate building just yet, investigations are underway now into what can be done with the current building.
"We might move the library, we're just waiting for the consultants to really give us the best possible outcome to do what we can with what we've got.
"This is a pretty old gallery, the collection is significant with a huge amount of items and they need to be preserved with the proper light and climate control or we risk putting some of it at risk if we don't do this.
"The beauty of this system though is it'll continue to be used despite whatever happens to the future facility."
Warrnambool's Flagstaff Hill Maritime Museum received $116,401 to undertake capital works and equipment purchases to transform an ageing permanent exhibition space into a new temporary space.
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