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CM unveils redevelopment concept design

Artist’s impression of the Canterbury Museum Rolleston Facade viewed from the North.

Press Release: Museum Unveils Concept Designs For Proposed Redevelopment, Canterbury Museum, 10 October 2020

Canterbury Museum has today released concept designs for its $195 million proposed redevelopment, which celebrate and reveal more of the Museum’s heritage buildings, provide twenty-first-century visitor facilities and meet the exhibition and storage needs of a modern museum.

Canterbury Museum Director Anthony Wright says that the Museum has listened very carefully to the feedback it has received to date. “People have told us that protecting the heritage buildings and placing a greater emphasis on Māori, Pasifika and multicultural exhibits were all important considerations for any redevelopment of the Museum.

“They wanted to see the blue whale skeleton back on display, improved visitor facilities and new prehistoric animal exhibits. People also want us to retain favourites such as Discovery, the Christchurch Street and Fred and Myrtle’s Pāua Shell House.

Mr Wright says that Athfield Architects have captured all of the feedback in the proposed concept designs, while maintaining the much-loved intimate feel of the Museum.

“The design increases the sense of discovery, surprise and the feeling of never being quite sure of what’s around the corner. However, the way people move through the Museum will definitely be improved.

“We will be bringing back the blue whale skeleton which has been in the Museum collection since arriving in Christchurch on a horse and cart in 1908. It has not been on public display for 26 years. The 26.5-metre skeleton will be a focal point in the Museum, suspended in a new central full-height glass-roofed atrium,” says Mr Wright. “We are also looking forward to developing to a new, expanded Antarctic exhibition.”

Canterbury Museum Chair David Ayers says, “The brief we provided Athfield Architects was quite challenging. We were very clear that any redevelopment must not reduce the historic importance of the heritage buildings or their cultural value.

“We want the proposed redevelopment to enhance and celebrate our history by unveiling heritage fabric that has been hidden for many years. The concepts have more than met our expectations and we’re looking forward to hearing what the Canterbury community thinks.”

Artist’s impressions of the Canterbury Museum interior Araiteuru space.

Welcoming Space: The Museum continues to work closely with Ngāi Tūāhuriri on the concept designs. Puamiria Parata-Goodall, Kaiurungi (Chair) of the Museum’s Ōhākī o Ngā Tīpuna says, “We are looking forward to continuing our journey with the Museum, not just for Ngāi Tūāhuriri, but for our Papatipu Rūnanga.

“At the heart of the new Museum is a new space called Araiteuru, housed in the central full-height atrium. Araiteuru celebrates the importance of how we welcome people to the Museum and this is where we will tell the story of mana whenua and tangata whenua through a mix of contemporary and traditional methods,” says Mrs Parata-Goodall.

Araiteuru will be home to a new contemporary whare – a ceremonial and educational space. The Whare Whakairo (carved meeting house) Hau Te Ananui O Tangaroa, a taonga that hasn’t been on display for 64 years, will also hold pride of place in Araiteuru.

Mrs Parata-Goodall says, “The redevelopment will acknowledge mana whenua and our long relationship with this place, well before the Museum was built. It will weave together the history and culture of Māori and Pākeha, the peoples who discovered, explored and have made Waitaha (Canterbury) their home.”

Design Proposals: The concept designs propose that the walls on the northern sides of the original Benjamin Mountfort-designed buildings will be revealed and original exterior elements, including the flèche (slender roof-top spire) on the Rolleston Avenue façade, will be reinstated.

A new three-storey building, within the height limits of the Rolleston Avenue roofline, would wrap around the north side of the heritage buildings, exposing their heritage walls to public view. The building would include mezzanine floors, multifunctional spaces such as a new lecture theatre and increased space for permanent and temporary exhibitions. Base isolation would be added across the site to protect the heritage buildings and the collections, and to bring the site up to 100% of Building Code. New collection storage would be created as part of this.

Additional Entrance: A key element of the concept design is a second Rolleston Avenue entrance. The current entry to the Museum is too small to be the only entrance, and with more than 750,000 visitors a year and rising, an additional entrance will reduce congestion and improve the flow of visitors into the building. This entry will also house a cafe with sidewalk seating.

Heritage architecture expert Jim Gard’ner says the concept design for the Rolleston Avenue facade respects and celebrates the Gothic Revival language of Benjamin Mountfort. “The additions to the Museum and planned central circulation patterns are informed by Mountfort’s original unrealised plans and ideas for the extension of the Museum.

“The proposed additional entrance on Rolleston Avenue will have three openings into a covered portico. This draws on the typical tripartite form commonly found in Gothic Revival architecture, including the 1878 porch of the existing entrance to the Museum, key entrances within the Arts Centre, and the porch of Christ Church Cathedral,” says Mr Gard’ner.

Roger Duff Wing: Floor-to-ceiling glass will be added to part of two floors of the Roger Duff Wing which will house a split-level family cafe alongside Discovery, the Museum’s natural history centre for children.

Jim Gard’ner says the changes to the Duff Wing draw on the Late Modern architectural form of architect John Hendry’s 1977 design, creating a new focal point for the Museum, with dramatic views across the Botanic Gardens to the Arts Centre.

Christchurch Heritage Charitable Trust Chair Dame Anna Crighton says the Museum Board was extremely proactive in sharing its redevelopment plans with the community and ensuring feedback was widely represented in the redevelopment concept.

Mr Wright says, “We now welcome public input into our concept designs. People can see the concept designs in the Bird Hall at the Museum or visit www.canterburymuseum.com to view the designs. Feedback closes on 23 October.

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Council of Australasian Museum Directors, c/o Ms Daryl Karp, Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House PO Box 3934 Manuka, Australian Capital Territory 2603 Australia, © CAMD 2020
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