Haunted Art Gallery
|The Art Gallery of South Australia, North Terrace
Photo: © 2017 Allen Tiller
On May 13th, 2005, television show Stateline, on the ABC, broadcast an episode about an alleged haunting at the Art Gallery of South Australia. The story was reported by Patrick Emmett, the following is the transcript from the episode.
Adelaide Art Gallery
Patrick Emmett: It was early one morning while he was checking the halls of the Art Gallery before opening that Trent had his first close encounter of a different kind.
Trent: I was almost in the door. It was pitch black, there was no lights on and, all of the sudden, there was this – this great burst of white light that went across the room, and it actually made me fully step back, I went “Oh, crikey, what was that?!?”
Patrick Emmett:Shaken, he checked what security cameras had picked up and what he saw surprised him even more. They showed him entering the room, reacting, but no sign of the mysterious light.
Trent: Its quite regular that you will see a frightened patron who wants to leave a particular area or a frightened staff member who has seen a ghost.
Patrick Emmett:Trent’s story is one of many you will hear from those who patrol the Art Gallery on North Terrace. There are tales of mysterious old ladies, pictures that move on their own and unexplainable spine-tingling drafts.
Female Witness:The cold comes through the floor, starts onto your legs and it goes up, and the actual hairs on your neck stand up, every hair on your body just is standing on end. As I came to this doorway I saw a flash of someone.
Patrick Emmett:The encounters can happen at anytime of the day. Staff report seeing strange people but when they search for them, they’ve disappeared!
Female Witness: I saw a dark shape go past the gallery archway and I thought “There shouldn’t be anybody down here” So I sped up a little bit, expecting to see somebody, and I entered gallery 19 and there was no-one there, and then I saw the same shape go past the archway of gallery 18. So, I came down a little bit quicker expecting to see who was here and I checked this whole gallery and there was no-one there. I looked up through the staircase to see if anybody was running up the stairs and there was no-one here.
Male Witness: I saw a lady in a long white dress of old period costume, high neckline and a bustle at the back. She had her hair in a bun and she just walked straight across the archway and I though, “Well, it’s a hot day, what are you doing wearing a dress like this on a day like”-you know, I remember it was a Tuesday and it was really hot, so I walked through just to have a quick look and I looked to me left and the lady wasn’t there. I though “this is really strange, she must have snuck into the other gallery without me seeing her”.
I walked through into gallery 20 and the lady wasn’t there either and that’s when I started thinking” hang on, what have I seen here? “
Patrick Emmett:Many of the sightings are in what’s called the Morris Gallery. A mysterious old lady in a green dress often appears, sometimes sitting in a rocking chair. Staff rarely tell their tales to outsiders, so they were dumbfounded when approached by a recent visitor.
Female Witness: And he approached me, and he said, “There’s so much energy in this room, and there is a presence” and I said “Well, that’s interesting” I said, “Can you communicate with this presence?” and he said, “Yes I can”. So, I asked him to and he did, and he said to me “There’s a little lady that lives in the gallery and she loves it here, but she’s got one complaint and that is that the gallery, this particular gallery, is very cold”.
Patrick Emmett:While the old lady might be happy in the Morris Gallery not everyone is so relaxed about her residency. Some patrons have refused to enter the room because of its atmosphere, including two Japanese tourists.
Trent: They got down as far as gallery 20 and they started really getting scared and they said, “Can you please get us out of this gallery as quickly as possible” and we got them to the stairs just here and as soon as we got them to the stairs, they ran up the stairs.
Patrick Emmett: Another visitor has warned staff that this painting is evil and the source of the unrest. It’s not clear what is the background is, but one worker believes he’s seen this woman walking the halls.
But there are strange happenings in other galleries as well. There was the green glow in a recent Egyptian exhibition, and books and chairs sliding around by themselves and then there was the day the two guards opened these rarely used doors that look into a car park.
Male Witness: The opened them and this particular guy, he said “Did you see?” and he didn’t even get that out and the other guy said “I never want to talk about this again. I saw nothing”. And apparently what they saw was just scrub and desert outside the doors when they opened them for a few seconds and then it went back to carpark.
Patrick Emmett:Some say the hauntings are because the gallery is built on an old grave site. Others say they’re because two people were once hanged inside the grounds, and there are the cynics that say they’re just the product of fertile imaginations, but the believers say they were once also cynics, but they can’t disbelieve the evidence of their own eyes.
I’m not into that sort of thing and, quite frankly, I didn’t believe anything like that existed, but you have to change your mind when you see things like this and they’re unexplained.
Female Witness: They’re here. They haven’t actually hurt anyone. They just live here as part of us. It’s part of the gallery, so we just don’t worry about them.
Haunted Art Gallery
Reporter: Patrick Emmett
Transcribed by Allen Tiller