Monday, April 22, 2024

Funding in frame for Canterbury Museum revamp

A one-off Government grant of $25 million will allow Canterbury Museum to move ahead with its planned redevelopment.

Associate Minister of Finance, Megan Woods announced the Government grant yesterday.

Canterbury Museum Trust Board Chair, David Ayers said the Government investment, which will help to fund seismic strengthening and base isolation work, is vital to the museum’s redevelopment.

“Without this crucial contribution from the Government, we could not redevelop the museum and address the issues that threaten its future,’’ Mr Ayers says.

“We are hugely grateful to the ministers who have recognised how important the Museum is to Cantabrians.’’

The Canterbury Museum Trust Board has agreed a budget of $205 million for the redevelopment; $175 million for the building itself and $30 million for developing new exhibitions.

With the Government contribution, the Museum has $150 million secured. It will approach the Regional Cultural Heritage Facilities Fund and the Lotteries Commission about further funding.

“I’m confident we’ll have the $175 million for the building secured before work begins on the Museum site in April next year. That will give us about four years to raise the final $30 million for the exciting new exhibitions,’’ Mr Ayers says.

With the Museum set to close its doors early next year, staff are moving the taonga (treasures) to secure offsite storage and will soon begin packing down the galleries, starting with Discovery, Our Mummy, Geology and Ivan Mauger Speedway King. Those galleries will close to the public on 17 October.

Museum Director, Anthony Wright says while it will be sad to say goodbye to the exhibitions, it is vital that the redevelopment project keeps moving.

“We know that every month of delay past our anticipated start date inflates costs by around half a million dollars, so it is really important that we begin on time,’’ Mr Wright says.

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.

Mr Wright said the redeveloped Museum will have significantly more exhibition space, meaning there will be room for exciting new displays alongside the returning old favourites.

The Museum’s blue whale skeleton, which has not been displayed for nearly 30 years, will return, diving down into a new atrium space. Some recently acquired taonga, such as a set of medals belonging to Antarctic explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton, will also be showcased for the first time.

In a new space at the heart of the redeveloped Museum called Araiteuru, Ngāi Tahu and Ngāi Tūāhuriri will tell their own stories using taonga the Museum cares for in partnership with them as mana whenua.

“We expect the project to take five years, which is a long time, particularly for families with young children. However, a temporary Museum will pop up in the central city in 2023 with a selection of our best-loved exhibits and a changing series of temporary exhibitions,’’ Mr Wright says.

*Canterbury Museum is funded by four surrounding local authorities: Christchurch City Council, Waimakariri District Council, Hurunui District Council and Selwyn District Council.

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