The Sarjeant Gallery redevelopment fund has received another $1 million donation, leaving it just $3.4 million short of unlocking central government funds.

The latest donation of just over $1 million from long-standing Whanganui fund the S.M. Davis Trust follows a $1million grant earlier this month from the Whanganui Community Foundation.

The redevelopment of Whanganui's historic Sarjeant Gallery has been priced at $34 million. The Government has promised $10 million if a matching amount can be raised from the private sector. The Sarjeant Gallery Trust has until the end of June to come up with the $10 million to qualify for the money from the Regional Culture and Heritage Fund.

Gallery trust chair Nicola Williams said yesterday the two $1 million donations had come at a critical stage in the project.


She said the trust needed to raise a further $3.4 million from the private sector to qualify for the government funding which would, in turn, enable the trust to confirm other funding proposals to help get the project over the line.

Ms Williams said support for the project - particularly at regional level - reflected a growing commitment to make sure the heritage gallery and its nationally significant art collection were preserved and developed for future generations.

"We are so close now, but the June deadline is looming and we are urging individuals and organisations who want to contribute to get in now."

The S.M. Davis Trust was set up in 1957 following the death of a Whanganui philanthropist who left a sizeable sum of money to a number of local charities. The residue of the estate was invested and held in trust for the benefit of the citizens of Whanganui.

Davis Trust solicitor Richard Austin said the trust had been a regular contributor over the years to various Whanganui initiatives and Mr Davis had had a deep affection for the Sarjeant Gallery and had left a legacy to the gallery in his will.

A decision had been made to wind up the 59-year-old trust and Mr Austin said the trustees saw the redevelopment project as being of such significance - providing a material asset to Whanganui residents - that it was making a full distribution of the remaining capital.

The donation is conditional on the redevelopment project going ahead.

The proposed redevelopment includes quake-strengthening and restoration of the Sarjeant Gallery and development of a new purpose-built wing for storage of the extensive art collection, exhibitions and for education purposes.

Developed design drawings by Warren and Mahoney Architects have been prepared and resource consents granted. If everything goes to plan, it is hoped to get construction under way by the middle of next year, enabling the gallery to be reopened in time for its centenary celebrations in 2019.