Should Te Papa open a branch in Auckland?
Plans for an Auckland branch of national museum Te Papa are to be unveiled today.
A $30 million Te Papa North will be built in Manukau, South Auckland, it is understood. Plans are set to be announced by Arts, Culture and Heritage Minister Chris Finlayson.
It is being touted as a ''national centre for collections, learning and touring.''
The site will be near Hayman Park, alongside a new rail terminal and near a $94 million campus by Manukau Institute of Technology.
It will be 20km along the congested Southern Motorway from DownTown Auckland, which is the site of Auckland's existing main museums and art precinct.
Auckland War Memorial Museum has already welcomed news of the announcement and confirmed it will contribute expertise and other resources towards a ''joint feasibility study.''
"We welcome any opportunity to share more of our national collections,'' said the Director of Auckland War Memorial Museum Roy Clare.
"Subject to adequate investment, the strength of the proposal lies in new partnerships, particularly with local people and communities. There could be fresh ways to work with other museums and places of learning, both in the neighbourhood and more widely; with opportunities for generating stories of Auckland, mātauranga Maori, Pacific dimensions and science-related knowledge,'' he said.
Clare also indicated that Auckland Art Gallery would be involved.
"Museums are kaitiaki [guardians] for many collections. Taonga and other items of national and international significance are cared for by Auckland Museum. It is our belief that these would be complemented by those from Te Papa and that the combined collections, in conjunction with those from Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki and other museums, could become more accessible to the public."
Today's announcement will be confirmation of an idea first floated two years ago - though the original plan was for a building on Auckland's waterfront.
The plan was led by veteran arts commentator and long-time Te Papa critic Hamish Keith.
Keith said at the time that only a small proportion of the national collection was on display for visitors to Wellington, never mind the 1.2 million people in Auckland.
''Te Papa itself has had some discussions for a very long time about building a second building next door to itself.
"We're saying 'let's take the pressure off and build a building that's about 800km away'."
Te Papa chief executive Mike Houlihan backed the plan at the time. Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown said at the time the Auckland project could be a ''taster'' for Te Papa.
''We would be concerned if the idea of having regional branches took the heart out of Te Papa ... They need to be careful not to dilute the Te Papa brand,'' she said at the time.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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