Warrnambool Art Gallery (WAG) - planning a new building

The cultural and creative economy

In 2020, 615,000 international visitors made their way to Victoria.

Of that number, 363,000 were cultural visitors – people who engaged in activities including visiting museums or art galleries.

These visitors were part of Victoria’s cultural and creative economy, worth $34.5 billion in 2020-2021.

To capture a share of this fiercely competitive industry, Warrnambool needs to develop world-class and unique cultural tourism experiences.

Developing Warrnambool’s creative economy by investing in creative and cultural assets, including the Warrnambool Art Gallery, has the potential to generate economic growth and social and economic development

Council has commissioned a business case can assist Council with a decision on a new gallery building at potentially a new site, Cannon Hill.

The business case will explore the benefits, model, costs, risks and options associated with a new Art Gallery at Cannon Hill and include a building design.  This research project does not commit Council to progressing the option of Cannon Hill.

The business case will present an architect-designed concept that aims to: 

  • ensure maximum retention of access to views and open space;
  • include both short and long-term parking;
  • retain the footpath to Pertobe Rd;
  • encapsulate Eastern Marr connection to country;
  • enhance the open space to the north of the train line;
  • create a cultural meeting place and cultural identity; and,
  • consider an overpass/bridge to Flagstaff Hill.

The conceptual designs produced for the business case process are a very early phase of the design process intended to provide a broad outline of function and form that can also inform early cost estimates.

Council acknowledges the support of Regional Development Victoria Investment Fast Track funding for the opportunity to explore possibilities and opportunities for our city.

Project timeline

November 2022 – March 2023

  • Investment Logic workshop with staff and mapping. 
  • Economic Contribution Study (ECS). Detailed analysis that provides an understanding of how the project impacts the local economy and the wider community.
  • Visitation forecasts.
  • Development of concept designs. 
  • High level cost assumptions and development costs.
  • High level financial forecasts and cost benefit analysis. 

April 2023

  • Presentation of Draft Business Case and options to Council for consideration and decision.

May 2024 onward

  • Should Council agree to progress the proposal a comprehensive deliberative engagement process will be developed and actioned, otherwise alternative pathways will be developed to deliver a new Warrnambool Art Gallery.

Community consultation

To date, the following community consultation has occurred: 

In 2021, the following consultation was conducted during the preparation of the Feasibility study. 

  • Ideas Board was active over the period 31 March to 23 April 2021.
  • An online survey receiving 138 responses
  • Stakeholder group workshops were held with arts sector (18 participants) and First Nation Peoples (19 participants), gallery staff and Foundation Trustees.
  • Interviews were conducted with 44 stakeholders over the period 9 April to 21 April 
  • A Gallery Visitor Survey was active over the period 31 March to 23 April 2021 - 190 visitors completed the survey. 

In 2022, the following consultation was conducted:  

  • An online survey received 82 responses
  • Public forum – 40 participants
  • Written submissions - 5 

Extensive community engagement will be undertaken after the business case development should Council proceed to the next stage.  This will ensure community and stakeholders are well informed and can continue to inform the process and provide feedback.

Community consultation 2021

Community consultation 2022


The existing gallery is significantly constrained by its building, which limits operational flexibility and the opportunity to present larger exhibitions and provide social and engaging spaces for activity.

Demand cannot be met for more interactive experiences, larger exhibitions, functions, and events. The building does not provide suitable storage for collection, loading or administration space.

The Gallery is the primary substantial visual art institution servicing south-west Victoria. The size of the current facility is not in step with the catchment area (about 120,000 people) which could be capitalised on with a stronger and expanded facility and offering. 

A feasibility study for a new Warrnambool Art Gallery was completed in 2021. The study was funded by Council ($100,000) while a philanthropic benefactor contributed a further $50,000. The process included extensive consultation with the arts sector and First Nation Peoples. The study looked at possible locations and determined the required spaces and functionality for a new gallery.

The study found that a new art gallery in Warrnambool could provide a major tourist and educational attraction and a stimulus for economic investment in the region and develop Warrnambool City’s market position as a regional destination for cultural tourism. An expanded Maar Nation Gallery could provide a link to the Tower Hill, Budj Bim cultural trail.

 2021 feasibility study