Museum strengthening under way
‘‘Buildings, architecture represents a period of time, and it’s important that the history and heritage are retained for the future generations of our community. ’’
A 114-year-old building that’s gone from Cambridge courthouse to museum is getting earthquake strengthened.
Cambridge Museum visitor numbers have been increasing, courtesy of the growing population and new history curriculum, manager Elizabeth Harvey said.
But the museum, at 24 Victoria St in Cambridge, has closed for strengthening work and is likely to re-open mid-July.
It is currently at 25% of the New Building Standard and the work – expected to cost about $400,000 – will bring it up to 50%.
Harvey said the idea was to redesign the building at the same time, but keeping it closed for longer wasn’t practical given the increasing visitor numbers.
‘‘We are working with a designer [in the background] to start seeing how we make this a more movable space.’’
Harvey envisioned a historical timeline along the back wall as the central feature, acting like a spine – storytelling from one event to another.
The building was once home to Cambridge Courthouse, which closed in 1979.
The museum – and the Citizens Advice Bureau, which later shut – took over in 1984.
More than 5000 people would have been expected to visit this year if not for the closure, Harvey said.
Visitors tend to be about 30%
Council manager of property services
locals, 25% international tourists, and the remainder New Zealanders from other areas.
‘‘We are starting to really contribute to the increasing tourism through Cambridge.’’
Harvey said museums were a lot more than just a matter of ‘‘providing a window into the past’’.
It was getting people to think about how the past could change their view of the future.
‘‘There’s a beautiful imagery of it being a ribbon between the past and the future.’’
The upcoming work will include new gutters, roof covering plus timber reinforcement to the internal trusses, reinforcement to the brick chimneys and the parapet and gable end on the fac¸ade will be braced to the timber roof structure, all while ensuring the historical exterior of the building is maintained.
Manager of property services David Varcoe said the project was budgeted for in the Waipā District Council’s 2021-31 Long Term Plan.
That followed a Grade D rating for the building in a 2019 report, leaving the council 25 years for seismic work to get it above the required 34% rating.
Varcoe said the council was working with the museum to ensure minimum impact, given the value the community placed on it and the obligation to provide a safe building.
‘‘Buildings, architecture represents a period of time, and it’s important that the history and heritage are retained for the future generations of our community.’’
The building is listed as a category 2 historic building by Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga, so the exterior appearance must be maintained in its original state.
The Cambridge Historical Society Incorporated owns the collections and operates the museum.