Property developer offers lifeline to Griffith gallery

Liz Hobday |

The Griffith University Art Museum will remain open for at least another year.
The Griffith University Art Museum will remain open for at least another year.

A Queensland property developer has provided a reprieve for the Griffith University Art Museum (GUAM) which was facing imminent closure.

The university had been looking at closing the museum in Brisbane’s South Bank, to make room for a studio for its film school students.

But the founder of development firm Sarazin, Darren Dougan, has stepped in to offer free accommodation for the film school, in return for being named a major supporter of GUAM.

A group of alumni and museum supporters have also promised to raise $100,000 towards meeting the gallery’s running costs.

It means GUAM can remain open for at least another year while a review of its finances is undertaken, the university said.

“This pause allows time for a considered reduction in costs and to allow supporters to work on additional sources of financial support from philanthropy, sponsorship or government,” it said in a statement on Thursday.

The gallery has six staff as well as casual workers and volunteers, and it’s uncertain whether jobs would be affected by any cost-cutting measures.

Prominent Queensland artists, students and former university staff had voiced their opposition to the closure during a three-week consultation process which concluded on Friday.

“It has been gratifying to hear the high regard in which GUAM is held in the arts community and the fact that people have been prepared to come forward to show practical support is even more appreciated,” the university said.

GUAM hosts visiting exhibitions and is separate to other campus galleries dedicated to showing student work.

The closure of GUAM would be a substantial blow not only to the art school but Queensland’s arts ecosystem, according to the National Association of Visual Arts.

GUAM is also the custodian of a significant public art collection which is displayed across the university’s campuses and which will also be on show at a new CBD campus to open in 2026.

The university has been searching for studio space for its film school, which has doubled in size over the past decade, because it has to leave its leased studios in West End by mid-2024.