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Museum Welcomes Government Redevelopment Funding

A $25 million Government contribution to Canterbury Museum’s redevelopment is “crucial” to the project, the Chair of the Museum’s Trust Board says.

Architectural render showing redeveloped Museum viewed from Rolleston Avenue

Minister Hon Dr Megan Woods announced the one-off grant from Greater Christchurch Regeneration contingency funding at the Museum this morning.

Canterbury Museum Trust Board Chair David Ayers says the money is vital to the project’s viability.

“Without this crucial contribution from the Government, we could not redevelop the Museum and address the issues that threaten its future,” he 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. David Ayers says the Museum will now approach the Regional Cultural and Heritage 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 4 years to raise the final $30 million for the exciting new exhibitions,” he says.

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With the Museum set to close its doors early next year, staff are making good progress moving the taonga in the storerooms to secure offsite storage and will soon begin progressively packing down the galleries. The first galleries to be emptied – Discovery, Our Mummy, Geology and Ivan Mauger Speedway King – will close on 17 October.

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

“We know that every month of delay past our anticipated start dates inflates costs by around half a million dollars, so it’s really important that we begin on time,” he 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.

The redeveloped Museum will have far 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 been off display 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 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 5 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,” Anthony Wright says.


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