Change urged at 'boring' Pembrokeshire art gallery

Image caption,
The £3.5m centre officially opened in 2008

A £3.5m art gallery in Pembrokeshire is boring and needs to broaden its appeal to the public, it is claimed.

The criticism is from St Davids councillor John George about Oriel y Parc, which opened two years ago.

The national park authority is closing the building's cafe because it is making a loss.

But it says although visitor numbers are down this year most tourists are positive about the gallery and it has become a major tourist attraction.

Like-for-like figures show a 27% drop in the number of people visiting the landscape gallery this year compared to last.

Next week the cafe - which was opened with the aim of subsidising the gallery and visitor centre - will close as it is running at a loss.

Mr George, who is chairman of Pembrokeshire council and a former member of the national park authority, said changes needed to be made.

"It's not working... there's nothing there," he told BBC Wales.

"There's nothing to look at, it's boring."

He said he and representatives of the city council had already met park managers on two occasions to outline their concerns.

"It's not lived up to the standards we expected," he added.

The gallery showcases landscape art from Wales. Figures show 21,179 people visited the gallery this year, compared to 28,758 over a comparable period in 2009.

Visitor numbers for the centre fell from 116,324 to 107,000.

Oriel y Parc, which was officially opened by then First Minister Rhodri Morgan in 2008, is owned by Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority and run as a partnership with National Museum Wales.

The authority's new chief executive Tegryn Jones said it was a "top class gallery" housing "renowned art work in a fantastic location".

He said the park was "always looking at how to improve their work."

He added: "In many respects we are very pleased with how Oriel y Parc has done in the short time it has been open.

"It attracts 120,000 visitors a year which I think puts us in the realms of it being a major tourist attraction in this area."

He said 80% of visitors were "positive about the experience" and because the weather had been better this year than last there was bound to be a fall in tourists using indoor attractions.

"The gallery has only been open two years - it's difficult to draw trends from these sorts of figures," added Mr Jones.

In a statement the National Museum of Wales said it was "fully committed to Oriel y Parc".

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