STAFF are on standby to move priceless works of art due to the risk of rain damage from a leaky roof at the National Museum Cardiff, a committee heard.

Jane Richardson, chief executive of Museum Wales, said she is really worried about the national collection, which includes paintings by Claude Monet and Vincent Van Gogh.

She warned the Senedd’s culture committee: “When we are expecting a storm or heavy rain, we have to put the staff on standby so they can come into the building in the middle of the night to take paintings off the wall.

“I’m not exaggerating there – that is what our staff do. We never, ever compromise the safety of the works … but that is the reality of my colleagues’ working life at the moment.”

She said there are four buckets catching rain water just outside her office door.

Ms Richardson added: “We have inadequate storage – that means the collection is being kept in conditions that are not appropriate … and our conservators can’t access it.”

She said critical maintenance works at the National Museum Cardiff would cost about £25 million.

She warned: “If we don’t do it, the future of that building is of great concern.”

Ms Richardson added: “At National Museum Cardiff we have a major problem with mechanical, electrical and plumbing works.

“If we can’t get those addressed, we will struggle to function.”

The committee also heard budget pressures meant some programmes are likely to stop, and opening hours could change.

Speaking after the meeting on Wednesday, December 6, Heledd Fychan said Dawn Bowden, the deputy minister, has consistently denied there is a real risk to collections.

The Plaid Cymru shadow minister: “She must now bring an urgent statement to the Senedd explaining how the Welsh Government is working with Amgueddfa Cymru and the National Library of Wales to protect our national treasures.”

Tom Giffard, the Conservatives’ shadow minister, criticised the Welsh Government for being “exceedingly slow to act”.

He said: “On far too many issues well within the purview of her portfolio, the Labour arts minister has sat on her hands, deflected responsibility and neglected her duties in favour of photo ops and expensive trips abroad.

“Dawn Bowden’s frequent inaction has been to the significant detriment of the Welsh culture, tourism and sport sectors.”

In response, a Welsh Government spokesperson said: “We take the safety of the national collections very seriously.

“As part of its grant in aid for this financial year, Amgueddfa Cymru is receiving more than £4.7 million towards capital maintenance which has helped to address the most pressing maintenance projects.

“Whilst we are aware of the longer-term maintenance issues, the museum has assured us that the collections are currently safe.”