Nova Scotia

Auditor general urges inventory of Halifax art

The auditor general of the Halifax Regional Municipality says the city needs rules to commission, manage and decommission public artwork after a piece of a sculpture worth $90,000 to $100,000 was lost.

Piece of Halifax Explosion sculpture missing

The auditor general of the Halifax Regional Municipality says the city needs rules to commission, manage and decommission public artwork after a piece of a sculpture worth $90,000 to $100,000 was lost.

Larry Munroe said the 1966 Jordi Bonet piece commemorating the Halifax Explosion was moved in 2004 from its original location outside the Halifax North Memorial Public Library on Gottingen Street. It was dismantled and stored at facilities across the Halifax region.

"March 2006 is the last we knew where all the pieces are," Munroe told councillors on the Audit and Finance Standing Committee. "I think it's concerning."

The large, spiky modern art piece — represented the aftermath of the 1917 disaster — is one of approximately 42,000 artifacts in the Halifax Regional Municipality's cultural collection. The exact number of artifacts is not known because there's no full inventory.

The auditor general said curators' recommendations for dismantling the Bonet sculpture were not followed.

"There has been quite a search but the missing piece has never been found. There is no hope it will be found," Munroe said.

The Halifax Regional Municipality has had draft rules on handling art since 2008, but they have never been implemented.

"That looks like scrap metal to me," said Coun. Steve Adams as councillors viewed a picture of the rusting sculpture before it was dismantled.

"I can see how someone on a truck might see it that way."

Munroe made six recommendations to track artwork in the municipality, including creating a full inventory of what's publicly owned.

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