Napier ratepayers still paying $12,500 a month due to new museum being too small

Napier's MTG (Museum, Theatre, Gallery).
MARTY SHARPE/ FAIRFAX NZ

Napier's MTG (Museum, Theatre, Gallery).

Three years after Napier's $18 million museum opened and found to be too small for its collection, there is still no plan as to where those contents will end up.

The MTG HB building, opened in September 2013, was built to house the $44m collection of about 100,000 objects owned by the Hawke's Bay Museums Trust.

The building, owned by Napier City Council, replaced an old building on the same site. When it was finished, it was found capable of holding just 40 per cent of the collection because air conditioning ducts and other pipes were taking up more room than expected in its basement storage area.

Napier MTG director Laura Vodanovich, in the basement of the building before it was filled. Just 40 per cent of the ...
MARTY SHARPE/ FAIRFAX NZ

Napier MTG director Laura Vodanovich, in the basement of the building before it was filled. Just 40 per cent of the collection can fit in the building.

The rest of the collection has been stored in the old Rothmans building in Ahuriri, at a cost to ratepayers of $12,500 a month, or more than $450,000 since the museum opened.

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In mid-2014 council chief executive Wayne Jack said a purpose-built building costing about $500,000 would be built at the council depot in the industrial area of Onekawa to house the collection overflow. 

On Thursday, Jack said a concept design was completed but it didn't go any further than that as "we wanted to explore other options" and enable new museum director Laura Vodanovich to assess storage options.

He said building on the depot site was still an option that would be considered "along with alternative sites".

Vodanovich said the council was now working on finalising plans for a permanent solution. A number of options are being considered and the council was 6-9 months from making a decision.

"It is then likely to take around 18 months to complete any work on the site and relocate the collection. Our current lease allows for flexibility so that if a solution is reached earlier than this, we can give notice and vacate in a timely fashion," she said.

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One option being considered was developing more of the basement into storage space by removing some of the functions carried out there presently.

It may also be an option to move the archives, which account for 12.5 per cent of the collection, to the Napier library, and this was being considered too.

Asked why there was still no clear plan for storage of the collection Vodanovich said "there are complexities around finding a permanent solution" and the priority to date had been focusing on community engagement.

 - Stuff

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