OPINION: The Bill Richardson truck museum is the stuff of southern legend.
Even that is too mean a description. The collection is now nationally and internationally famed to the extent that, even though about 5000 people visit it each year, it still somehow has the status of a bit of a secret discovery ready to astound just about anyone who has had the gumption to pay it a visit.
So news that it is to re-establish in even more impressive scale - at a mighty 5333 square metre art-deco style building on the Anglem St-Inglewood Rd site - will have menfolk all over the place behaving like excitable boys.
More than a few aesthetically open-minded women will be lining up as well; and the kids will be saucer-eyed at what awaits them.
When Invercargill Mayor Tim Shadbolt calls the development the best thing to happen to the city in decades, some eyes doubtless roll in suspicion of mayoral hyperbole.
For its part, the Government might consider its $30 million Tiwai smelter bailout and think thanks a bunch, Tim.
Careless comparisons can be fun, but the truck museum's expansion is indeed a really big deal when seen purely in its own terms.
How many people grinned to themselves when they read Bill's daughter, H W Richardson Group director Jocelyn O'Donnell's comment that the collection was becoming too big not to share with the community.
Becoming? Understatement of the year.
When Richardson died in 2005, the museum had more than 150 trucks. It was far more than a rich man's indulgence, or just a big, shiny display. There was both a coherence to it and a sense of passionate interest. There was so much to see in one place that anyone with even a remote interest in vehicles found their hearts sang in the midst of it.
And Richardson, as we wrote at the time of his death, shared it "in the manner of an agreeable neighbour", ever-willing to open it up for enthusiasts without getting skitey about it.
But as O'Donnell says, her dad had always wanted the collection to be loved.
The collection has now pretty much doubled in size during the past decade, notably from the purchase of a rare collection of early Fords from Darwin.
It will be more than admired. It will be loved, all right.
- The Southland Times
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