The National Gallery of Australia's cash-flow problems potentially endanger its art collection, an audit report says.
The Canberra-based gallery, which is home to the national collection of works of art, has almost $6 billion in assets.
However, an auditor-general report released on Wednesday said solvency had this year been added to the NGA's strategic risk register as a "major risk".
As well the NGA has "used injections of equity, designed for the purchase and maintenance of the artworks, for operating costs".
And the gallery's financial situation had "significantly impacted" on building maintenance.
"The storage and display of its collection in less than optimal accommodation is a risk to both the artwork and to the NGA's reputation," the report said.
Recent stocktakes had been unable to locate a number of artworks held by the gallery.
"As at January 2018, the NGA had 809 items that were recorded as 'to be located' in their (collection management system), which indicates that the NGA has legacy data issues to investigate."
The report recommended improvements to financial management, a long-term storage solution for the collection and spending on critical building works.
The gallery said in response to the report it would put in place a multi-year financial plan to improve its ratio of expense to revenue.
It would also ensure the acquisitions budget funds were only used for that purpose and address other concerns raised in the report.