Disasters Australia

Brisbane museums face flash floods

Ground level areas of Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art have been inundated, but no works have been damaged, according to staff

Queensland Police Service, showing the Brisbane River outside the Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art

SYDNEY. Floods in the Queensland capital of Brisbane have surrounded the Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art, damaging front of house areas but leaving works of art unscathed. As floodwaters rose, staff at the QAG moved exhibitions of work by Scott Redford and Vida Lahey to higher levels.

The QAG and GoMA are neighbours on the Brisbane River, which peaked at 4.46 metres at 5am on Thursday morning. Facebook pictures hinted at the extent of the disaster which saw floodwaters up-rooting a ferry terminal and sending it spinning down the Brisbane River where GoMA and the QAG are located side by side.

Queensland Police Service pictures showed the riverside walk in front of the two galleries completely submerged. QAG director Tony Ellwood said all the works in the exhibition “21st Century: Art in the First Decade”, which occupies the whole GoMA building, will be “fine”.

GoMA had water damage to the lower level of the Children’s Art Centre, the River Cafe and some back of house areas, according to spokeswoman Amelia Gundelach. “There was no artwork damaged,” Gundelach said. She said no water entered the ground level of the QAG building, although the carpark was inundated. “We expect recovery and clean up to take several weeks. Both gallery buildings will remain closed until further notice,” Gundelach told The Art Newspaper.

Other art spaces were also lucky. The artist-run Flipbook Gallery and associated production galleries in Brisbane’s West End were inundated in deep water, with artist Chris Booth saying artwork had been saved. “We were literally floating it out,” he told The Art Newspaper. The commercial gallery Jan Manton Art had just relocated to Brisbane’s Spring Hill from a site close to GoMA. “[The site] where the gallery was is now under water,” said Trevor Robertson, Manton’s partner. Institute of Modern Art director Robert Leonard said the institute had survived because it was on high ground.

Some museums may still have something to worry about. The Queensland Centre for Photography in South Brisbane is likely to be closed until next week. “Looks like the water will reach us after all,” the museum posted on its Facebook page.

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15 Jan 11
16:55 CET


There is no value high enough that we can place on human life, but 'art treasures' are as valuable to the community as a whole as personal treasures are to individuals. Neither are replaceable and we are lessened by their loss. I'm very glad to hear the art works are safe.

14 Jan 11
14:58 CET


It's not until we experience a major disaster that we realize how little value there really is in "art treasures".

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