As new SAM rises, so does the excitement

By John Lewis

As the new multi-million dollar Shepparton Art Museum building rises over the southern end of Victoria Park Lake, residents can expect to see more exciting developments next year.

Greater Shepparton City Council city engineer Phil Hoare said the state-of-the-art five-storey building is on schedule to be completed by the end of 2020.

“We are now moving into a really exciting part of the build. Now that the final floor and the core of the building is finished, nearly all the scaffolding can come out, so the building will go to something that's fully open and you can see through,” he said.

Mr Hoare said the next building phase involves placing structural steel on the outside followed by the placement of the distinctive powder-coated steel facade by April-May.

He said construction workers were able to work around the current high temperatures.

The Goulburn Valley Hwy/Murray Valley Hwy is closed between Strathmerton and Benalla-Tocumwal Rd due to the fast-moving fire.

“For example, this week the concrete was poured early in the morning so they can make adjustments to maximise the time spent on site. At this point, the heat is not impacting the schedule,” he said.

He said the most challenging part of the build is already over.

“The risky things are really the stuff you do below the ground, so it's been great to get out of the ground and up without any major hiccup,' he said.

Mr Hoare is also looking forward to exterior elements of the site such as an Indigenous healing garden and a children's playground.

Mr Hoare and his staff were excited to be able to work on a cutting-edge contemporary building.

“You don't get to work on a $50 million project very often, it's a great opportunity and it is a bit of a buzz,” he said.

A construction worker on the SAM site as the building soars to the fifth storey.

SAM director Rebecca Coates said the museum's arts program will continue throughout 2020, including touring shows nationally.

Dr Coates said once the the new building is completed, museum staff will then face the huge job of transitioning from the old site to the new one.

“We've got to move three things in. We've got to move the business - the staff, the computers, the filing cabinets,” she said.

Then comes moving the collection.

“So we have about 3900 objects - works that have been gifted and of significant cultural and monetary value. So that all needs to be done properly with expert packers and carriers - that's a big job. I'd love to say we can get started on that before next Christmas - but it depends on how the build goes,” she said.

Greater Shepparton City Council city engineer Phil Hoare is shown around the site by Madison James from Kane Constructions.

Dr Coates also said the SAM team is also working on the museum's opening program with the help of contracted events organiser Ros Abercrombie.

She said the opening events would involve a series of exhibitions and workshops, artist in residency programs and Kaeila Arts and Visitor Information Centre events.

Dr Coates said the new site will also include an outdoor amphitheatre to be used as a community space.

“We'll do some programming, but I really hope the community will take this on for pop-up events such as music, theatre, children's performances,” she said.

Dr Coates said as the completion of the building gets nearer, she was sure community excitement will increase.

“It's great to focus on the pregnancy, but at the end of the pregnancy you have a baby - and you have that baby for life, and we all play a part in how we want to bring that kid up. It presents infinite possibilities - and that's where the whole of Shepparton comes in,” she said.