Museum's problems known for a year

MARTY SHARPE
Last updated 06:42 04/03/2014

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Napier City Council sat on its hands for more than a year after being told its new museum would not be big enough, documents reveal.

The Dominion Post reported last month that Napier's new $18 million MTG (museum, theatre, gallery) building could hold only about 40 per cent of the collection, which is owned by a trust funded by Napier and Hastings ratepayers.

New council chief executive Wayne Jack has started a review into the development.

Correspondence made public under the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act shows that Opus Consultants told the council in June 2012 that offsite storage would be required.

Mr Jack said the contents of the letter, sent to former chief executive Neil Taylor, were the subject of a council meeting in October 2012, from which the public were excluded.

Opus said it was originally thought the entire collection would fit in the new building, with room for growth in the short term. But the letter says: "Five years later we are already at the 'tipping point' where the need for more collection space will start to require either additional offsite facilities, or increasing compromises on facilities within [the building]."

They suggested three solutions, one of which was a long-term fix requiring offsite storage that would allow for 15-20 years of growth. Another would see the council buy expensive rolling shelving to maximise space, and a third was the combination of the first two.

A memorandum to Mr Taylor from MTG director Douglas Lloyd Jenkins, dated July 18, 2012, states that any of the three scenarios would require offsite storage, and his preference was for the long-term solution.

Even if the expensive shelving was chosen, storage would still be required within 1-2 years, he said.

Mr Jack said yesterday that no decision had been made on the storage issue and this had led to the issue arising now "and that's what I'm trying to fix".

The collection was split between the museum and a site at Ahuriri, which the council was renting.

"I don't really want to spend too much time looking at how the problem arose. I just want to fix it," Mr Jack said. "We'll look at getting as much of the collection into the building as we can."

This would include looking at altering the building to increase storage.

"The aim is to get strategic parts of the collection back in, then to look at offsite storage options."

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- The Dominion Post

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