Painting a new future for the Rockhampton Art Gallery

Published on 28 September 2017


Today Council took the first steps in transforming Customs House and the former SGIO building into a modern Cultural and Arts Precinct.

Rockhampton Region Mayor Margaret Strelow shared her vision for the site in the lead up to the Local Government Election 12 months ago and the preliminary work has reinforced the suitability of the site to be a precinct which will act as a catalyst for the new Quay Street redevelopment.

Mayor Strelow said the Cultural Precinct would become a tourist attraction worthy of housing the Collection.

"Relocating the Art Gallery to this new cultural precinct gives us so many new opportunities to really activate our city's heritage assets that are currently underutilised in this area," Mayor Strelow said. 

"The SGIO building which would house a majority of the art collection would receive a unique and artistic façade treatment and will include three two-storey galleries and two single storey galleries inside.

"The building would be linked to Customs House which would subsequently provide an additional function to the Art Gallery."

Mayor Strelow added that the existing Art Gallery on Victoria Parade would complement the Pilbeam Theatre as a conference centre for the city.


"This space will be reconfigured to a flat floor performance space and function space which would work very well with the Theatre next door," she said.


Rockhampton Gallery Director, Bianca Acimovic said cultural precincts are becoming increasingly popular in regional towns as a way of creating centres of activity and a point of meeting.


"More and More cultural precincts are breathing life in to regional towns and this has been seen with Bendigo Art Gallery, MONA (Museum of New and Old Art), and MAMA (Murray Art Museum Albury), where I have just moved from," Ms Acimovic said.


"Where cities have become disjoined due to large retail developments on the outskirts of towns, cultural precincts are bringing people back to CBD's and creating avenues and frameworks for bespoke retail shops that show a city's uniqueness to another.”


Council will also seek to purchase a parcel that would connect between East Street and Quay Lane to create a pedestrian lane to allow better access.


Detailed designs have also commenced for the redevelopment of the Bond Store located directly behind Customs house to become the 'Smart Working Hub', which is currently operating out of 212 Quay Street.


The Bond Store will mostly be an open plan two storey working space for start-ups to collaborate, while 214 Quay Street, the former RECI building, may be converted into a covered market space, using its existing frame to provide a warehouse atmosphere.


“We have a bit of work to do to make sure that the building is suitable but it could give us the all-weather space that we are looking for in this precinct,” Mayor Strelow said.


Council will allocate $300,000 for preparation of detailed concept designs and project plans of the Cultural Precinct to enable the project to be investment ready for future funding applications.