A Brett Whiteley drawing bought by the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery in 1976 is missing.
Museum staff are now reviewing archiving and auditing practices after being unable to locate the Whiteley drawing from the mid 1970s called Waves V.
Staff became concerned about the drawing’s whereabouts earlier this year after researchers inquired about the art work, City of Launceston general manager Michael Stretton said.
The drawing was recorded as having entered the museum’s collection when purchased in 1976 for $800, but there has been no further record of it since – and it has never been displayed.
The value of Waves V is unknown, however works of similar media, content and size have recently sold from anywhere between $20,000 and $30,000.
“Staff have undertaken a preliminary search of the gallery’s storage containers, however at this point we have been unable to locate the drawing,” Mr Stretton said.
Past staff members employed when the Whiteley work was acquired have been contacted, but no further information has come to light.
“The QVMAG's collection is extensive, with more than 200,000 individual items and, unfortunately, it remains possible the work has been incorrectly catalogued at some point in the past 42 years and will be difficult for us to locate,” he said.
“…the museum will make every effort to locate the work in question. This is a process that may take many months. At this stage, we believe it’s likely the artwork is simply mis-catalogued within our collection.”
The museum is expanding art work digitisation as part of its City Deal Smart Cities work, which involves an extensive collection audit.
“Once that process is complete, we will have a significant and improved understanding and governance of our collection.”
Tasmania Police is aware of the situation, but council has not requested an official investigation yet.
Whiteley’s legacy manager has also been contacted.
“...we are doing everything possible to locate the artwork.”
Queen Victoria Museum and Art Galley is owned by City of Launceston.
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