A $12 million grant from the Government's Provincial Growth Fund has got the Sarjeant Gallery redevelopment over the line.
The funding announcement was made at the Sarjeant Gallery's 100th birthday celebration on Friday by Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Regional Economic Development Fletcher Tabuteau.
"While significant contributions have been secured from the Whanganui District Council, Ministry of Culture and Heritage, and Department of Internal Affairs, as well as from passionate members of the community, this PGF investment is the final major contribution that the project requires to proceed on time," Tabuteau said.
"The redevelopment will turn this nationally significant gallery into a world class attraction.
"A recent economic impact assessment estimates the redevelopment will attract 22,000 additional visitors per year and generate around $11m in additional regional spending."
Tabuteau said the project has a number of benefits in addition to increased tourism, including helping to better preserve taonga on behalf of iwi.
"It will play a key role in preserving New Zealand's history and cultural identity for future generations to appreciate and enjoy in the region, nationally, and internationally.
"It has taken the Whanganui District Council ten years of fundraising effort for this project to reach this point, and what better way to celebrate than on the gallery's 100th anniversary."
The PGF grant will also repair a heritage building.
There is a recent precedent for that, Tabuteau said, with a grant made toward repairing Rotorua's museum.
"Like yours, that would have been a major loss of tourism and cultural pathway. It's a fine line we have to go down. It has to be an equation around economic growth."
The Ministry for Culture and Heritage had already given $10 million toward the Sarjeant redevelopment, one of the biggest donations it had made, he said.
Tabuteau had no doubt the redeveloped gallery would pull in visitors. He pointed to the success of another tourist facility the Provincial Growth Fund has put money into – the Sky Waka Gondolat at Whakapapa - full to capacity last weekend.