Artefacts still looking for a home, four years after new museum found to be too small
It has been four years since Napier's new museum was found to be much too small and there is still no permanent home on the horizon for the region's collection of artefacts worth tens of millions of dollars.
Napier ratepayers will continue footing a bill of $12,500 a month to store the collection at a temporary site for the foreseeable future.
The $18million 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.
The rest of the collection has been stored in the old Rothmans building in Ahuriri, at a cost to Napier ratepayers of about $12,500 a month.
This week council's director of community services Antoinette Campbell said "further options have been explored, including multiple sites in Onekawa and one in Whakatu. However due to costs and competing priorities nothing has been confirmed as suitable to date".
The sites would not be disclosed for commercial reasons, she said.
"It is taking time because Council doesn't have many options at this stage that are affordable and able to be achieved within available budgets," Campbell said.
She would not say if one of the sites was the council depot, which chief executive Wayne Jack had mooted as a possibility.
Campbell said the collection could stay in the Rothmans building as long as required, and the buildings owners had no plans involving the space they occupy.
There was no rush, she said.
Last October the council said it was 6-9 months from making a decision on where the collection would be housed.
Following the discovery last month that the council's main building was earthquake-prone and unlikely to be strengthened, it now made sense to "investigate MTG's storage alongside the wider council and library archive storage options," she said.
One of the options being considered was moving council staff into the city library and building a new library elsewhere, possibly near Clive Square.
The council had earlier been considering moving the archive, which accounts for about 12.5 per cent of the collection, into the city library.
"The library building is no longer considered an option for archive storage. Council is presently investigating options for a new library and it cannot be ruled out that the MTG archives will not be co-located with the library archives in a new facility, Campbell said.
It cost $178,000 to store the collection in 2015/16 and $176,000 in 2016/17. The council had budgeted $151,000 for another year's lease and there was $496,000 allocated for off-site storage.
In mid-2014 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.
Once a site is found it will take about 18 months to complete any work on the site and relocate the collection.