Probe on gallery's falling glass

AN engineers' report due today is expected to shed light on what caused a huge pane of glass to shatter, forcing the closure of several galleries at the newly refurbished National Gallery of Victoria.

Seven of the 30 galleries at the St Kilda Road complex, that reopened amid fanfare last month after a four-year, $168 million makeover, were closed last week after a huge pane of glass fell from the roof.The gallery's chief operating officer Liz O'Keefe said the glass fell from the top of the Coles Court gallery area, shattering onto a ramp below."Nobody was hurt ... because safety of the public is paramount we decided we weren't going to take any chances," Ms O'Keefe told ABC radio.

Ms O'Keefe said consistent hot weather last week may have caused the pane of glass to shatter.

"There's lots of possible explanations ... one speculation is that very high temperature caused the glass to expand and do certain things to cause it to shatter," Ms O'Keefe said.

"We've had a team of engineers on site yesterday checking the rest (of the glass panes) and we'll be getting a report from them today."

She said areas affected included galleries housing contemporary art and temporary exhibitions.

Ms O'Keefe said five of the seven shut galleries would be reopened by the end of the week, with covered walkways constructed to enable patrons to access the courtyard area.

600450 Probe on gallery's falling glass
Date: 8 January 2004

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