Where to for our regional cultural facilities?

Handling Our Heritage and Culture - Where to for our regional cultural facilities?

The Issue

Over the last few years, we have been working on finding solutions to issues faced by the museum, art gallery and library. These issues include:

  • Rapidly growing collections – our collections are growing and more bequests are expected in the short-term
  • Storage space – there is a lack of suitable space to house these collections
  • Modernisation – In today’s technological world, community expectations have changed about how these facilities deliver their services. We need to ensure our facilities are modern, up to date and able to be used well by the community

The South Canterbury Museum houses an extensive collection. It began in 1954 as a voluntary operation. Over the years, it has evolved into a professionally run museum serving the wider South Canterbury region. The complex consists of the original Pioneer Hall (octagonal shaped building) and a collection wing added in 2000.

The current museum building has reached the limits of its suitability as a museum space. Alongside those issues described above, there are less than ideal exhibition spaces and a lack of adequate work spaces. Parts of the building do not meet modern museum standards. The museum also desires to expand as a space for visiting exhibitions and as a visitor attraction to South Canterbury.

The main issues faced by the Aigantighe Art Gallery relate to storage and modernisation. The Aigantighe art stores are chock-a-block, with very limited space for new additions. The library building is old but robust. Work is planned to maintain the building into the future such as replacing the roof. The main issues for the library relate to modernisation, storage and making spaces more community friendly.

Investigations are ongoing as to the best way to manage these issues and develop these facilities into the future. Ideas such as combining facilities or centralising storage in one place have been suggested. What do you think?

The Options

1) Focus on addressing the most critical issues

The existing facilities and operations would carry on with no major changes. A solution would be found for the collection storage dilemma, which could possibly include joint off-site storage. Funding of $0.5M is included in the budget for an additional store to be built at the Aigantighe Art Gallery.

2) Redevelop the existing museum building or build a new museum along with building the new Art Gallery art store

Possibilities include:

  • Extending the existing museum building and improving access. The extension would be approximately 800 – 1,000 square metres and the overall project costs would be around $9-10M.
  • Building a new museum on the existing site – The existing Pioneer Hall would be demolished and a new purpose built modern museum constructed retaining the existing storage areas. This could cost up to $12M.
  • Building a stand-alone exhibition venue and retaining the existing museum building as a collection store, research centre and exhibition development area. This could be either a new, specifically designed museum or an existing building redeveloped in the Timaru CBD. The new building would be around 1,500 square metres and the overall project costs would be around $10-11M.

A solution would be found for the museum storage issues associated with the redevelopment. Other facilities would be upgraded where possible.

Preferred option

Option Two is Council’s preferred option, although significant work is still required to decide the best redevelopment option. At this point, $10M has been included in the LTP for redevelopment with construction not starting until 2018/19.

The project would be funded through external fundraising and loans. A storage solution would be determined as part of the project. A redeveloped facility would also have higher day to day running costs. This would impact on Council debt to the tune of $4.6M, with an extra 1.9% onto rates (both numbers include inflation).

The success of the project is contingent on significant external fundraising.

Supporting Documents and Links

South Canterbury Museum Feasibility Study