$18m museum not big enough for collection

MARTY SHARPE
Last updated 05:00 04/02/2014

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Napier's new $18 million museum and gallery cannot hold the collection it was built to accommodate.

The MTG HB building, opened in September, 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. The entire collection was stored elsewhere for three years while it was under construction.

Council chief executive Wayne Jack yesterday said about 10 per cent of the collection had been relocated to MTG and it now appeared that just 40 per cent would be able to fit in the building.

Mr Jack said he did not know how this happened. He was not sure if there had been an intention to store the entire collection in the new building, but admitted there were no plans in place to store any part of the collection elsewhere.

This would be considered in a review he was undertaking of the entire project, which had been completed by the time he took up his position.

"We need people to work out exactly how much we can get into the MTG. Part of the review will look at how we can store and package the collection. It may be that we can package it in a way that reduces storage," Mr Jack said.

If ongoing storage was required "we could lease something, we could build something, or we could do something with Hastings", he said.

Hastings Mayor Lawrence Yule said he was shocked to discover the situation and was now working with Napier to find extra storage space.

"There was never any suggestion part of the collection would be stored elsewhere, ever. A big mistake has been made here. I'm not sure who's responsible, but we now find ourselves with a new building that can store less than half our collection."

Mr Yule said "in no way is Hastings council in any way responsible. This is a Napier City Council project and someone's made a huge error".

Trust chairwoman Barbara Arnott, who was Napier's mayor until October, disputed the 40 per cent figure.

It was originally planned to store the whole collection in the building but that changed after it was discovered that air conditioning ducting meant there would be less storage space than anticipated.

"That was known to council some time ago, but it was never anything near 40 per cent," she said.

The trust paid the council for storage and it was the council's job to ensure it was stored safely and securely, she said.

MTG director Douglas Lloyd Jenkins could not be contacted.

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- The Dominion Post

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