One of Ballarat's landmark, heritage-listed buildings will undergo restoration works over the course of coming weeks, with works set to begin sometime this week.
The facade to the historic, late-nineteenth Art Gallery of Ballarat - situated along the city's prominent Lydiard Street - will be subject to meticulous cleaning and preservation works with a view to restoring its original colour, along with minor repairs to the building's front veranda and window frames.
From a distance, resident historians and heritage observers alike will be able to watch on as the lengthy, precision work is carried out by heritage conservator Confix, which was contracted by the City of Ballarat to undertake the works.
Ballarat Heritage Watch president Stuart Kelly welcomed the restoration works, noting the irreducible cultural loss which accompanies failures to preserve buildings steeped in historic and architectural significance.
"Some years ago, there was a study done regarding what people liked about Ballarat, and the highest responses went to heritage buildings and the heritage of the city," he said, pointing to the loss of various buildings across the city over the last 50 years or so, whilst noting other questionable modern builds, such as the much maligned GovHub on Mair Street.
"It sounds like fairly routine maintenance work has been planned, and obviously we welcome it; the Art Gallery of Ballarat [building] is an essential part of the Lydiard Street streetscape."
It was a sentiment shared by acting City of Ballarat mayor Amy Johnson, who predicted the works to the double-storey Renaissance revival building would enhance the entire Lydiard Street precinct.
"Our heritage buildings and streetscapes are one of the things that make Ballarat such a wonderful place, and this program of renewals is all about ensuring these buildings are cared for and last another 130 plus years," she said.
"It's important we keep the oldest and largest art gallery in regional Australia looking its best."
The art gallery, which is listed on both the Victorian Heritage Register and the National Trust of Australia, was constructed in 1887-90 to the designs of Tappin, Gilbert and Dennehy, and officially opened by Sir Alfred Deakin in 1890.
It counts the Eureka flag among its most prized artefacts, as well as various collections associated with the Lindsay family of artists and writers.
Full access to the gallery via the main entance will be provided while the works are carried out, notwithstanding the full scaffolding which will be constructed on Wednesday. While the scaffolding is being installed, however, access will alternatively be afforded via the cafe entrance.
The restoration works are covered by a standing exemption endorsed by Heritage Victoria, meaning they do not require a permit.
The City of Ballarat is funding the works at a cost of $140,000 under its Facilities Capital Renewal Program.
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