A chill has descended upon culture.
The Vernon Public Art Gallery has been without an operating furnace for about six weeks and it’s expected the situation won’t be corrected until early in the new year.
“We have space heaters all over the place but we have to shut them down at night and then it’s quite chilly in the morning,” said Dauna Kennedy Grant, executive director.
“In the main gallery, it has been getting down to 16 Celsius and it’s usually in the 20s.”
The concern is that once cold weather does arrive, the space heaters won’t be able to manage and conditions inside the gallery could become uncomfortable for visitors.
“Our employees are wearing sweaters and if it gets colder, they will be putting on gloves,” said Kennedy Grant.
However, the primary concern is for the integrity of the gallery’s art collection.
Temperature and humidity control are critical to preserve paintings and other items and Kennedy Grant says that is difficult without a consistent heat source.
“We have locations identified if we have to move items off site,” she said.
Beyond all of this, when the space heaters are plugged in, breakers have blown.
The art gallery is located in the downtown parkade, which is owned by the City of Vernon.
“On Oct. 15, council approved $100,000 to replace and upgrade the failed HVAC systems at the parkade, including the art gallery space,” said Brett Bandy, the city’s real estate manager.
“Building services is sourcing a new system and has provided temporary electrical heating units until the new system can be installed.”
City staff have been waiting for quotes on the equipment and with that now in hand, phase one installation for a medical clinic will begin next week. The second phase, which will impact the art gallery, could begin in about a month.
This is just the latest capital works issue for the VPAG.
There were cases in January 2013 and in 2012 of water leaking into the building and damaging art.
“We spend so much time with interruptions,” said Kennedy Grant.
“We can’t focus on what we need to focus on.”
VPAG is pushing Greater Vernon politicians to hold a borrowing referendum in January for a new art gallery.
“We want to provide more continuity and services to the community,” said Kennedy Grant.
It’s been suggested that it could cost $17.9 million for a new art gallery and museum.