Otago Daily Times

Main en­trance to ‘awe­some stories’ of district to re­open

OA­MARU

- RE­BECCA RYAN re­becca.ryan@odt.co.nz Arts · Otago Region · Waitaki District Council · Oamaru · North Otago Museum and Archive

AF­TER be­ing closed for al­most four years, the North Otago Mu­seum’s front doors are set to fi­nally re­open to the pub­lic next month.

For mu­seum cu­ra­tor Chloe Searle, De­cem­ber 11 could not come soon enough.

‘‘For me, work­ing in the mu­seum . . . it’s about car­ing and shar­ing,’’ Ms Searle said.

‘‘You care for the ob­jects, that’s a big part of it, but what re­ally ex­cites me is shar­ing — the whole ethos of a mu­seum is to be a place peo­ple can come and have in­for­ma­tion shared with them . . . and they can share in­for­ma­tion with each other.’’

Since April 2016, the mu­seum and Waitaki District Archive have only been open to the pub­lic through a side door in Stew­ard St, while plans to amal­ga­mate the mu­seum, ar­chives and the For­rester Gallery were afoot.

But in 2018, the Waitaki District Council changed course, end­ing its $6 mil­lion re­de­vel­op­ment plan, de­cid­ing in­stead to pur­sue stand­alone up­grades for Oa­maru’s cul­tural fa­cil­i­ties.

Sev­eral events had dis­rupted stage one of the $1,435,000 up­grade of the mu­seum and ar­chives, in­clud­ing the Covid­19 lockdown, for­mer mu­seum director Jane Mack­night’s de­par­ture and the Ohau fire.

‘‘No more sur­prises

2020,’’ Ms Searle said.

Changes to the build­ing in­clude new dis­play fa­cil­i­ties, a re­fur­bish­ment of the win­dows, walls and ceil­ing, a new heat­ing sys­tem and the re­place­ment of the floor.

Dis­plays in­clude the Waitaki district’s ge­ol­ogy; the taonga of the district, in­clud­ing the Wil­letts Col­lec­tion; the story of Ngai Tahu; and Euro­pean ar­rival.

‘‘We’re a lit­tle bit of a sam­ple plate for the awe­some stories this district has — be­cause you can’t fit them all in a mu­seum and you can’t fit them all in a half an hour or hour visit,’’ she said.

Hours were still be­ing fi­nalised, but Ms Searle hoped the fa­cil­ity would be open six days a week and mostly run by vol­un­teers.

Stage two of the re­de­vel­op­ment would start next year, and would

please, open up the sec­ond floor of the build­ing to the pub­lic for the first time and in­clude a lift.

‘‘There’ll be an education room, a tem­po­rary ex­hi­bi­tion space and there’ll be an ex­hi­bi­tion that re­ally picks up this story from the 19th cen­tury and goes into 20th cen­tury stories of this district — pretty ex­cited to get into that,’’ she said.

 ?? PHOTO: KAYLA HODGE ?? His­tory rocks . . . North Otago Mu­seum cu­ra­tor Chloe Searle is look­ing for­ward to wel­com­ing the pub­lic back to the mu­seum from De­cem­ber 11.
PHOTO: KAYLA HODGE His­tory rocks . . . North Otago Mu­seum cu­ra­tor Chloe Searle is look­ing for­ward to wel­com­ing the pub­lic back to the mu­seum from De­cem­ber 11.

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