Museum leaks stress need for revamp

Last updated 14:50 08/03/2014
Canterbury Museum
LEAKY: Buckets catching water leaks on bonnet of vehicle in the Antarctic Wing at Canterbury Museum.

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The Canterbury Museum sprung about 20 leaks in the heavy rain this week, damaging temporary artworks installed for the RISE street art exhibition.

Buckets had to be placed on the bonnet of the historic Sno-cat tractor in the Antarctica gallery to catch dripping water during the heavy rain on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Museum director Anthony Wright said the leaks underlined the need for a proposed multi-million-dollar revamp of the 144-year-old complex.

Rainwater got behind Thom Buchanan's street scene painting, creating a balloon of water behind the paint that eventually burst, tearing a 30 centimetre hole. Other RISE paintings on the wall of the museum were also water damaged.

Other items in the museum collection escaped damage.

Wright said the rooftops were a complex network of leak-prone internal gutters and downpipes.

"The museum has been designed by accretion over the years. It is a complex mesh of different building of different ages. If there is anything other than normal weather, we have problems."

Bringing the museum up to 100 per cent of code would cost of tens of millions of dollars, Wright said. It could also mean closing it to the public for about three years.

"We can't spend any more piecemeal money putting sticking plasters on the building."

The February 2011 earthquake closed the museum until September that year, but then it closed again for engineering assessments in April 2012 and partially reopened in July the same year. It was finally fully opened last April.

"There is a perception that all is well. We are very lucky, but you don't have to scratch too far below the surface to find problems."

Wright has struggled to revamp Canterbury Museum in the past. A $48 million plan to transform the museum was ditched in 2006 after the Christchurch Civic Trust successfully challenged the scheme at the Environment Court. The court ruled the scheme would impact adversely on the original Benjamin Mountfort heritage building.

Wright said any new scheme would learn from the 2006 case by not touching the historic parts of the building and staying within city plan rules.

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- The Press


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