Leading Museums, Museum Leaders

CM approaches $205M target with $25M grant

The Rolleston Ave façade of Canterbury Museum will have three new entrances and a new cafe, right. Supplied.

Charlie Gates, Race on to raise $25m for Canterbury Museum revamp or risk cost rises, Stuff, 12 October 2022

The race is on to raise $25 million for the revamp of the Canterbury Museum before April, or risk cost escalations of $500,000 a month.

The $205 million revamp of the Canterbury Museum was given a funding boost on Wednesday, with the Government granting $25m for earthquake protection measures.

Associate Minister of Finance Megan Woods said the one-off grant must be spent on seismic strengthening and was conditional on Canterbury Museum raising the money needed for the rest of the project.

Museum director Anthony Wright said they needed to raise $175m by April to fund the construction phase of the project. The Government grant brings their total to $150m, leaving a construction shortfall of $25m.

Associate minister of finance Megan Woods with Canterbury Museum director Anthony Wright and museum board chairperson David Ayers. Chris Skelton/Stuff.

Canterbury Museum Trust board chairperson David Ayers said the Government money was vital.

“We know that every month of delay past our anticipated start dates inflates costs by around half a million dollars, so it’s really important that we begin on time.”

The museum is in discussions with Lotteries funding and the Regional Culture and Heritage Fund, which is run by Manatū Taonga the Ministry for Culture and Heritage, for the remaining $25m in construction funds.

The remaining $30m in the budget is for fit-out and exhibition work. The museum will have the five-year construction period to raise the extra money.

Most of the museum will be packed up by early 2023. After a final farewell exhibition, the museum will close in April for work to begin.

The Canterbury Museum has developed over the last 150 years. (Video first published October 9, 2020). Click here to view video.

Woods said the $25m in government funding came from a “greater Christchurch regeneration contingency” fund.

“This is contingency funding that wasn’t spent on other funded projects from earthquake funding. This is what is left over once we have gone through and completed all the earthquake projects in the central Government commitments,” she said.

“I asked the team to have a look around at what are some of the bits that are left. What are the missing pieces of the puzzle in terms of how central Government can aid with the recovery of Canterbury post-earthquake? This was one of the obvious projects.”

She said the $25m was likely the remainder of the fund.

“I will have to check, but I think this is pretty much the end of the fund.”

The new proposed atrium space will feature a blue whale skeleton suspended from the ceiling. Supplied.

The earthquake protection measures were important to keep the museum and its collection safe, she said.

“The museum cares for one of Aotearoa New Zealand’s most significant collections of historic artefacts and natural history specimens, numbering more than 2.3 million objects with an estimated value of more than $1 billion,” she said.

“Significant existing issues with the museum buildings were exacerbated by the 2011 Canterbury earthquakes. The museum needs to add base isolation across most of its site to protect its buildings, the people inside them and the priceless taonga they contain.”

She said the project was one of the last earthquake rebuild projects in Christchurch.

A new rendering of the Canterbury Museum revamp, which has been changed to keep the budget at $205 million. Supplied.

“This project is one of the last remaining before we can finally turn the page on the earthquakes and truly start a new chapter for Christchurch.

“As a Cantabrian, I look forward with anticipation to seeing the museum brought up to the modern world-class standard it deserves as the South Island’s most visited tourist destination.”

The ambitious redevelopment plan involves demolishing large parts of the museum built between the 1950s and 1990s, restoring the historic parts of the complex, and incorporating into the museum the Robert McDougall Art Gallery, which would be leased from the Christchurch City Council.

The museum would be closed for five years during the revamp, but would operate a pop-up venue in the city.

Council of Australasian Museum Directors c/o Mr Brian Oldman, South Australian Museum PO Box 234 Adelaide, South Australia 5001 Australia, © CAMD 2022
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