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Major government grant to Otago Settlers Museum

13 March 2008

Major government grant to Otago Settlers Museum redevelopment

Prime Minister Helen Clark today announced that the Labour-led Government is making a grant of up to $6 million to the Otago Settlers Museum’s expansion and refurbishment project

Helen Clark said the grant is being made from the fund established in the 2000/01 financial year to support the Government's Regional Museums Policy for Capital Construction Projects. Grants are made for development and redevelopment projects where the collections held by the museum or gallery concerned are of national significance.

The grant, to be spread evenly over four years, will go towards a new two-storey collection storage building and the refurbishment of the museum’s existing heritage buildings. The refurbishment work of the existing buildings includes:

- re-roofing
- insulation
- air-conditioning, and
- earthquake strengthening.

Helen Clark said that Dunedin was one of New Zealand’s first cities which meant many early immigrants arrived and settled there before moving to other areas of the country.

“The Otago Settlers Museum has significant collections of about 50,000 important objects which document the early arrival of European and Chinese settlers in particular,” Helen Clark said.

“The holdings include the largest collection of shipboard diaries in New Zealand; New Zealand Rail’s oldest surviving train, ‘Josephine’; extensive photographic and ephemera archives; and period costume, technology, and transport collections.

“Also featured are the George O’Brien Watercolour collection, Fisher and Paykel Heritage collection, rare early computers, artefacts from the Waipori Power Station project, the Tiger Tea bus, Takapuna Tram, and fire engines,” Helen Clark said.

“The museum’s collections are significant because they give insights into the settlement and development of New Zealand.

“Space restrictions, however, currently mean that only a small proportion of the collections can be displayed. This expansion and refurbishment project which the government is supporting will mean that more collections will be displayed.

“The new storage facilities will also better protect the collections. The current storage space is not insulated and is spread over several sites. Fluctuating temperatures and humidity, uncontrolled daylight, and borer infestations have also been concerns.

“The museum’s management predicts that the redevelopment project will also result in a significant increase in people visiting the museum,” Helen Clark said.

The first $1.5 million grant will be made in the 2007/08 year with subsequent allocations confirmed annually, subject to the project progressing to plan.

The whole project is estimated to cost $34 million, with Dunedin City Council contributing $21 million. Fundraising has raised approximately a further $2 million.

ENDS

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