Majority of artwork retrieved after gallery roof collapse
Work crews have pulled nearly 500 pieces of art from the Prairie Art Gallery in Grande Prairie, Alta., after a portion of of the historic brick building collapsed last week.
On Monday, engineers gave workers the OK to enter one section of the facility to recover the artwork from the gallery's permanent collection storage area and vault, gallery executive director and curator Robert Steven told CBC News.
Before this week, the building had been deemed too dangerous to enter,Steven said.
"None of them were water-damaged. It appears that all of them are going to be salvageable," Steven said.
"Some will require some minor treatment, but I'm very relieved to have those all out."
However, Steven also pointed out that approximately 50 additional artworks remain trapped in another section of the building still deemed too unsafe to access.
"I feel very sorry for the artists whose work remains upstairs because it, of course, is work that doesn't belong to us and represents a substantial body of all their recent work."
The recovered artwork includes pieces owned by the gallery and those that had been in transit for travelling exhibitions. Steven added that he hopes to be able to retrieve the remaining pieces within the next week.
An art conservator has alsobeen brought in to assist with any repairs.
No injuries in collapse
On March 19, the roof on the gallery's south side collapsed, but no one was injured thanks to the quick-thinking Steven.
After noticing that one of the building's central roof beams had cracked and that water was trickling inside, he quickly called off a scheduled pre-school class, evacuated the site and guarded the door to prevent anyone from re-entering. He then called city officials to investigate.
During the investigation, just moments after city workers had left the south section of the building, the roof collapsed.
The gallery also received some bittersweet news on Monday, when Peace River member of Parliament Chris Warkentin announced that it was to receive $1.1 million in federal funding.
The grant — which the gallery had applied for three years ago — had been earmarked to help begin construction on an expansion and new library addition this spring. However, since the collapse, the improvement plans are now in question.
With files from the Associated Press