An exhibition at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia of artwork by famed American photographer Annie Leibovitz will be delayed until January because of repairs to the gallery's sprinkler system.

Ray Cronin, director and CEO of the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia in Halifax, said he had hoped the collection would be shown sooner but it took longer than expected to replace the sprinkler system in the north building.

The north building, which houses the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia's permanent collection and temporary exhibits, has been closed since May.

"We have been having some challenges. We weren't expecting to have a good percentage of the gallery closed all summer," Cronin told CBC News.

The problem with the sprinkler system was found during a maintenance check by the provincial Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal, which took over managing the gallery's buildings last year.

The north building was renovated in 1988 and the system had been worn down over time, officials said.

Meanwhile, the gallery is trying to finalize which 120 Annie Leibovitz photographs to display to the public. They will likely include some of the 63-year-old's most iconic photographs, such as John Lennon and Yoko Ono embracing, a naked and pregnant Demi Moore, Oscar winner Whoopi Goldberg in a milk-filled tub, the Blues Brothers and the Queen.

Cronin said donor Harley Mintz and the 63-year-old photographer are both planning to attend the opening of the exhibit.

"Certainly Annie wants to come to do something, to be here at the opening and perhaps do a lecture or something like that," he said.

The collection includes 2,070 images — 1,307 editioned prints and 763 vintage file prints — and was gifted to the gallery by the Al and Faye Mintz family of Toronto.

When the donation was publicized in June, the gallery said the exhibition would open in the fall.

"It takes time to get everything settled," said Cronin.

"It's going to be one of the biggest exhibitions we've ever done, if not the most popular exhibition we've ever done. There's no point in doing something like this if you don't do it absolutely right."

Leibovitz faced a massive debt several years ago that led to the sale of some of her vast collection, but she managed to avoid bankruptcy.