Museum visits down despite cheaper entry

MARTY SHARPE
Last updated 06:50 20/08/2014

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Hawke's Bay

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Lowered entrance charges to Napier's new museum have not led to improved visitor numbers, with the past two months recording the lowest figures since the $18 million building opened.

But on the positive side, MTG (museum, theatre, gallery) attracted more visitors in the 11 months to July than the old museum it replaced, and Napier City Council says it is now "heading in the right direction".

The adult entrance fee dropped from $15 to $10 on June 20, the day after the council issued a highly critical review that listed a raft of errors and oversights with the development and recommended changes.

These included making more of its social history and Maori collections, and changing the way the facility was marketed.

Despite the lower charge, the numbers of general admissions for June and July were 1808 and 2211 respectively - the lowest since it opened on September 21 last year.

The opening attracted large crowds for free open days and, thanks in large part to high visitor numbers in September (6112) and October (6783), visitor numbers to the end of July were 39,120, an 18 per cent increase on September-July 2009-10 with 33,177 visits.

The old museum closed on July 24, 2010.

Council chief executive Wayne Jack said the winter months of June till August were always quieter "and while this winter was quieter than that of 2010, this was due to high visits before the museum closed, and this year's figures are comparable to a typical winter period".

"We are really pleased to see admission numbers higher than before the museum closed when comparing our first 10 months of operation to the 10 months before closing in July 2010," Jack said.

He said the review had offered some useful information on the way forward.

"We have recently completed the restructure and I'm confident the museum is heading in the right direction."

An exhibition on Whetu Tirikatene-Sullivan's wardrobe would open next month "and we're hoping it will be a winner with the public".

The review found that, once opening effects were excluded, annual visits would be 30,000 to 35,000.

By making the changes recommended in the review, the numbers were expected to rise to between 44,000 and 58,000.

STAFF CHANGES

A staffing restructure at MTG has been completed, the council says.

Eighteen staff have been given new equivalent roles, five have been given alternative positions, two have been moved to council roles, and five permanent staff, including one part-timer, have been made redundant.

Two of those five chose voluntary redundancy. The new role of deputy director of marketing is expected to be filled soon.

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- The Dominion Post

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