One of Canberra's most admired heritage buildings could soon be up for grabs, as the National Film and Sound Archive begins casting about for new premises.
And a prime piece of lakeside real estate could also form part of the equation, according to the archive's chief executive Jan Müller.
Mr Müller, who moved to Canberra from the Netherlands to take up his position in October, announced plans to move the institution as part of his "First 90 days" presentation to staff this week.
He also unveiled his vision for the future of the national audio-visual collection, which will include an entirely digital collection by 2025, in line with a national commitment to digitise all public collections.
He said the institution, which has battled several years of funding and staff cuts, needed to improve its public profile, as visitor engagement and numbers dwindled.
The archive has been housed in the atmospheric and heritage-listed former Institute of Anatomy - and the city's first morgue - since 1984.
But in the past four years, the exhibition and film screening programs have been cut and, the courtyard cafe has closed.
While Mr Müller is currently in discussions with the family of late actor Heath Ledger to bring an exhibition about his career to the capital from Western Australia, he said the current building was the best place to host such events.
"We're not a destination. People don't come here because there's something happening. I think we should be more," he told Fairfax Media on Thursday.
"This building has never been built for an archive purpose, or for visitors.
"It's a beautiful building, it has a great facade with all these art deco elements, but it's not fit for purpose. If we want to live up to these expectations, to that strategy, to that future, if we want to have a place in the digital domain, we should start with a new building."
He also scuppered rumours that the archive would shift to a different city.
"This is where we are, this is where the vaults are, this is where our efforts are. Even when our collection is digital, it doesn't make sense to leave Canberra," he said.
But a new location and building would be vital for the archive to remain relevant and achieve its purpose as the country's repository of audio-visual heritage.
This would best be achieved, he said, by moving to a new, purpose-built structure, possibly on the Acton peninsula in the same precinct as the National Museum of Australia and the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island Studies.
He said while other options had been discussed, this location, currently vacant, was the most likely so far.
"It's too early to say that it will be the peninsula [site]. We have a lot to do before this happens," he said.
He confirmed he had already been in discussions with federal arts minister Mitch Fifield.
"We definitely want to be where the visitors are," he said.
While it was too early to discuss costs, he said such a building could be at least partly funded by selling the current premises, owned by the archive.
"If we sell the building, there's money involved already, so it's not just new money in order to build something new," he said.
"I think that's the only option, in my opinion, in order to have something new in place."
But he pointed out that this was just the beginning of what would be a long process.
After a 20-year career in advertising, including as the head of Saatchi & Saatichi Amsterdam, Mr Müller spent more than eight years at the helm of the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision, where he oversaw the building and launch of a new purpose-built headquarters in Hilversum.
That project, which took six years from planning to conception and cost around 60 million euro, now brings 250,000 visitors through the doors each year.
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