Leading Museums, Museum Leaders

CM moving 2.3M taonga as upgrade begins

An artist’s impression of how the museum’s exterior will look after a $205 million upgrade. Photo: Supplied / Canterbury Museum.

Canterbury Museum moving 2.3m exhibits as major upgrade begins, Radio NZ, 21 July 2022

Canterbury Museum is packing up to prepare for what it is describing as a once-in-a-lifetime redevelopment.

As many as 2.3 million taonga are being moved and stored as building gets underway on the Rolleston Avenue site alongside the Botanic Gardens.

Anthony Wright. Photo: supplied/Canterbury Museum.

Rising construction costs mean the project budget has increased by $10m in the last year to a total of $205m.

Two years ago museum director Anthony Wight said the redevelopment was needed to protect the museum’s historic buildings, its priceless collection, and to bring the interior spaces up to the standards expected of a fit-for-purpose 21st-century museum.

“Some of the buildings have a long list of problems and are either well past the end of their useful life or need major upgrades. They are causing damage to the collections they are meant to protect,” Wright said.

The buildings leaked and let in insects and because there was minimal air conditioning and no insulation, temperature and humidity could not be controlled.

An artist’s depiction of part of the museum. Photo: Supplied / Canterbury Museum.

As many as 2.3 million taonga are being moved and stored as building gets underway on the Rolleston Avenue site alongside the Botanic Gardens.

Rising construction costs mean the project budget has increased by $10m in the last year to a total of $205m.

Two years ago museum director Anthony Wight said the redevelopment was needed to protect the museum’s historic buildings, its priceless collection, and to bring the interior spaces up to the standards expected of a fit-for-purpose 21st-century museum.

“Some of the buildings have a long list of problems and are either well past the end of their useful life or need major upgrades. They are causing damage to the collections they are meant to protect,” Wright said.

The buildings leaked and let in insects and because there was minimal air conditioning and no insulation, temperature and humidity could not be controlled.

The proposed Araiteuru space that will showcase Māori collections at the redeveloped museum. Photo: Supplied / Canterbury Museum.

Today he told Morning Report that once the renovations are finished the museum will be a “world class base-isolated fully air-conditioned facility”.

“It’s the first time the museum collections will have been in tip-top storage facilities in their life.

“We’re moving to a very large secure warehouse complex while the main museum complex is totally redeveloped.”

He said visitors can be assured their old favourites will still be displayed.

Three controversial Māori dioramas seem unlikely to be returned though. Wright said the museum was working with Ngāi Tūāhuriri to remove the most offensive parts almost immediately while the rest will be taken away as part of having to empty the museum.

The dioramas have been criticised for their primitive depiction of early Māori life.

The interior of the planned Robin Duff café. Photo: Supplied / Canterbury Museum.

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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