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Funding for Canterbury Museum

Canterbury Museum
Rolleston Avenue
Christchurch, New Zealand

22 May 2002

Government announces funding for Canterbury Museum
10 am, Wednesday 22 May 2002
Canterbury Museum, Rolleston Avenue, Christchurch

An opportunity to view an exclusive cameo of rarely seen treasures, and riches beyond value, from the Museum’s world-class collection.

Today the Associate Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage, the Hon Judith Tizard, announced the Government’s decision to grant $15.75 million (gst inclusive) towards Canterbury Museum’s revitalisation. The total project cost of $55.8 million (gst inclusive) includes $17.44 million already spent on earthquake strengthening (1993), the Garden Court building (1995), and preparatory work for the $38.36 million of works still to be implemented.

The project, unveiled in November 2001, will enable the Museum to solve major operational challenges such as congestion, confusing circulation routes, inflexible special exhibition space, restricted vertical access, poor storage facilities, lack of environmental controls such as air conditioning, fragmented workroom and office areas, outdated security and fire safety provisions, lack of research facilities, and an inability to take advantage of revenue generating opportunities.

Canterbury Museum Director Anthony Wright said, “We know our visitors love the Museum’s rather quirky range of exhibitions and collection-based stories. However, the majority still get hopelessly lost. As visitor numbers continue to grow, orientation problems within the Museum will only become worse.

“An important change within the Museum will be radically simplified circulation routes. The Museum’s seven buildings have been constructed bit by bit over 130 years so it’s not surprising that visitors have difficulty finding their way around the bewildering rabbit warren of spaces. Improved restroom facilities, stairs, lifts, and air conditioning will all add to our visitors’ comfort and enjoyment of the Museum.

“Behind the existing façade a new full-height atrium, with the skeleton of the enormous blue whale towering above, will create a more welcoming and spectacular arrival for visitors.

“Today’s museums are not the tired, dusty, never-changing institutions of the past. Our aim is to capitalise on what Canterbury Museum already does well, draw in new groups of people who might not have visited the Museum, improve access to our huge research resources, and ensure the Museum is an informative and fun place to be.

“Detailed design for the first stage of the work is well underway and we expect construction to commence in the second quarter of 2003 with the new entrance, circulation spine, and special exhibition space opening two years later. Plans include a new human history discovery centre, and an all-new Antarctic experience celebrating the world’s premier collection of artefacts relating to the heroic era of discovery of the frozen continent.”

Canterbury Museum Trust Board Chairperson Paddy Austin said, “The Board is delighted by this government support, which will ensure proper preservation of the Museum’s priceless collections and easier access to those collections by the research community and the public. The Board looks forward to an exciting period as the first stages of the revitalisation are implemented. It will be a challenging time and the Board aims to support Director Anthony Wright and all the staff as much as possible as they carry on with the important work of operating the Museum.

“This essential modernisation of Canterbury Museum will respect its highest heritage classification. The project is expected to have a significant impact on the province as it provides employment opportunities during construction, attracts more domestic and international visitors, enhances our regional and national identity, and increases revenue opportunities within the Museum.”

An exclusive cameo of rarely seen treasures, and riches beyond value, from the Museum’s world-class collection
Museum Director Anthony Wright said, “To mark this very important occasion staff have delved into the Museum’s storerooms to pull out some of the most spectacular objects that are not usually on display. These magnificent treasures underscore the vital importance of the revitalisation project and dramatically illustrate the possibilities that will come out of the government’s generous funding.”

Amongst the treasures are:
 An 18th century Hawaiian feather cloak
 A striped blue and white sun hat work by Sir Edmund Hillary on the first successful ascent of Mt Everest, 29 May 1953
 A selection of pou-pou from the meeting house Hau Te Ananui O Tangaroa for the Ngati Porou chief Henare Potae (late 1850s, early 1860s)
 Royal art from the Kingdom of Benin (now Nigeria) – two bronze commemorative heads and a wall plaque
 A 1912 dress tunic from the 2nd North Canterbury Battalion of Infantry Volunteers
 An elephant bird egg

These, and the other 12 treasures in the display, are utterly irreplaceable but have a total estimated replacement value of tens of millions of dollars. The treasures are just a tiny selection from the enormous riches of the Museum’s reserve collections.

This exhibition, from 10 am to 11 am, Wednesday 22 May, is for media and invited guests only.


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