The historic Art Gallery of Nova Scotia in downtown Halifax is in need of major repairs.

The building, home to Nova Scotia's collection of 15,000 images from the province's past, has a moisture problem and the stone facade is crumbling.  Scaffolding has been put up to protect pedestrians from falling sandstone as consultants evaluate what needs to be repaired.

"I mean, they aren't big pieces, but you don't want to see any falling," Ray Cronin, gallery director and CEO, said Wednesday.

Cathy MacIsaac, spokeswoman with Nova Scotia's Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal, said it's not known what needs to be done.

"We do expect to have a better handle on what those needs are in the next couple of weeks," MacIsaac said.

Humidity is the problem on the lower floor where water problems are chronic, Cronin said, and where visiting collections are shown. This area is out of bounds for exhibits with paper, impressionist paintings or ancient artifacts.

"Maintaining humidity levels next to the ocean in a 19th-century building is complicated," Cronin said.

The gallery has had to turn away visiting exhibits because other galleries demand proof that artwork will not be damaged by a stay in Halifax, he said.

A painting by A.Y. Jackson — a member of Canada's Group of Seven — is on display on the gallery's fourth floor, which is climate controlled. The painting is on loan from London's Tate Gallery.

Cronin said the repairs will cost millions of dollars over time but for now, while budgets are tight, the gallery has been told to get in line.

"It is a reality of a time when there are so many competing needs for limited funds, that we have to be patient and make things work as well as we can until we get to that point," he said.

The gallery had to close in January 2009 for several weeks for repairs after ground water leaked into the building.

The gallery attracts about 35,000 visitors each year.