A collection of art worth millions of pounds could be ‘seriously at risk’ if more than £1million is not spent on the roof of the Bury Art Museum.
Bury councilors are expected to approve the museum’s request for money to support a request for funding to repair the leaky roof, which will come from reserves intended to help the arts.
Museum patrons will apply to Art’s Council England’s Museum Estate and Development (MEND) fund for support to enable renovation of the gallery’s roof.
A report to the Council Cabinet by Sarah Evans, Bury’s arts and museums manager, detailed the seriousness of the situation at the historic Grade II listed building.
She said: “The gallery roof requires urgent attention to stop water infiltration which, if left unchecked, will cause significant damage to the building and pose a serious threat to the borough’s collections. who are there.
“The water infiltration also affects the service of the library, on the ground floor, causing disturbances when the water descends to the electrical panel.
“Vulnerable works in the collection have been removed from display in the most at-risk areas of the gallery.
“If work is not undertaken within 18 months, this will worsen and potentially lead to limited access to 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 museum is applying for the MEND fund to support the work.
If successful, they will receive around £800,000 and a further £201,000 from Bury Council’s capital reserve will be needed to cover the cost.
If MEND funding is not received, the board should recommend that all costs be covered from the board’s capital budget.
The Bury Art Museum opened in 1901 and was built specifically to display the Wrigley collection of Victorian art offered to the people 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 significance of the works in the collection has been recognized both nationally and internationally and is valued at over £25 million.
There are approximately 2,000 works of art and 60,000 museum objects in the collection with selections on permanent display.
Ms Evans’ report said the building’s design could not cope with more recent 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 inside which has gradually worsened over the past year.
“Ornamental plasterwork falling from upper levels poses a serious threat to the health and safety of staff and visitors.
“Internal repairs cannot be considered until the roof structure and resulting water infiltration are rectified.”
Of the council’s capital reserve, £547,000 is earmarked for artistic pursuits.
This money was set aside for artistic service following the sale of LS Lowry’s painting A Riverbank, which was sold by Bury Council in 2006.