6 Jun 2020

Canterbury Museum has unveiled its proposed plans for redeveloping its Rolleston Avenue site.

Museum director Anthony Wright says the proposed $195 million redevelopment is needed to protect the Museum’s historic buildings, its priceless collection, and to bring the interior spaces up to the standards expected of a fit-for-purpose 21st-century museum.

“Some of the buildings have a long list of problems and are either well past the end of their useful life or need major upgrades. They are causing damage to the collections they are meant to protect,’’ Mr Wright says.

The buildings leak and let in insects and because there is minimal air conditioning and no insulation, temperature and humidity cannot be controlled.

Canterbury Museum Trust Board Chair David Ayers says the buildings aren’t fit for a museum caring for precious collections.

"Bare wiring runs through corridors, water pipes through storerooms, there’s only one lift for the whole building, not enough toilets and we spend a lot of time patching up problems. Apart from the earthquake strengthening in the 1980s and 1990s, which culminated in the 1995 Garden Court building, no major improvement work has been done since the 1970s.

“We simply cannot guarantee the safety of our collection under the current conditions, let alone effectively carry out the research and educational components of our work. We are also very limited in what we can do to improve our visitor experience and show off more of our collection,'' Mr Ayers says.

Under the proposed redevelopment plans the museum’s historic buildings will be base-isolated to ensure their preservation and additional spaces created so that more of the museum’s collection can be displayed.

Currently, only 1 per cent of the collection can be displayed at any one time.

Mr Wright says the Museum already has  in hand well over half of the money needed for the redevelopment, including funds allocated to the project by the four contributing local authorities - Christchurch City, Waimakariri, Hurunui and Selwyn Councils – as part of their obligation under the Canterbury Museum Trust Board Act 1993.

“The Museum is in active discussions with other possible funders and is developing a business case seeking funding from central Government to complete the funding plan.

“We have also made a submission to Crown Infrastructure Partners for the proposed redevelopment to be considered a “shovel-ready’’ project that could receive Government funding as part of a stimulus package to assist New Zealand’s economy post-COVID-19,’’ Mr Wright says.

“The Museum will continue to work with key stakeholders and will create a number of opportunities for the public to give us feedback before any plans are finalised and submitted for resource consent.’’

Canterbury Museum is a stand-alone entity which is funded by four local authorities, including Christchurch City Council, under the terms of the Canterbury Museum Trust Board Act 1993.