An anonymous couple has donated $250,000 to save a Victorian museum from closure, just days before it was set to shut down.
The Castlemaine Art Museum was due to close on August 11, but hundreds of locals at a meeting were last night told the eleventh-hour lifeline meant the central Victorian landmark would remain open.
The mystery donors have been identified as a local couple, who issued a letter through Sotheby's Australia, an auction house that specialises in art.
"Castlemaine is blessed with a wonderful museum building and a fabulous collection," the letter said.
The museum's long-term viability remains under a cloud, but chairwoman Jan Savage said the donation was a start to getting ongoing funding.
"It's a stimulus to other donors to get involved," she said.
"They are demonstrating a great faith in our ability to renew what we do."
The board said the donors hoped the Mount Alexander Shire Council, which has been providing $25,000 a year to the museum, would come to the party and contribute more.
Questions remain over museum's long-term future
The anonymous donation is enough to secure the gallery's future for the next two years.
Another philanthropic group, the Macfarlane fund, has contributed $50,000.
But the local MP, Maree Edwards, would not confirm if the State Government would offer future funding to the museum.
"What was clear from last night's meeting is that the Castlemaine Art Museum has a passionate community of supporters," she said
"The number of people at the meeting was quite overwhelming."
Ms Edwards said there would need to be a financial audit of the museum's operations.
"This is about sustainability, there is no point throwing money at a facility if it's going to fall over sometime in the future," she said.
Creative Industries Minister Martin Foley said the State Government already contributed to the museum, and would work with the community for a sustainable solution.