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Waikato Museum to close for major renovation


Waikato Museum is set to close its door for a planned renovation over the next few months (Image Supplied by Waikato Museum for publication)

Praneeta Mahajan
Hamilton, May 14, 2024

The Waikato Museum Te Whare Taonga o Waikato is set to close its doors for a comprehensive upgrade starting Monday, July 22, 2024. This ambitious project aims to address existing issues and implement preventative measures to ensure the museum meets the highest industry standards for the care, storage, and display of its diverse collection of taonga, artworks, and objects.

A long- planned upgrade

The closure, part of Hamilton City Council’s renewals programme, is scheduled to last four and a half months. Key improvements will include enhanced watertightness, better climate control, and increased accessibility. The museum’s interactive discovery centre, Exscite, will remain open throughout the renovations.

“This long-awaited programme will ensure Waikato Museum is up to standard and will extend its useful life as a community facility for Hamiltonians and for the tens of thousands of visitors who come here each year,” said Liz Cotton, Director Museum and Arts. “Waikato Museum is open every day except December 25, 2024. As this work would be quite disruptive to Museum visitors, the most efficient approach is to close our doors temporarily and just get on with it.”

Museum Director Liz Cotton said that protecting taonga, and increasing accessibility were main reasons for the renovation (Image Supplied by Waikato Museum for publication)

Details of upgrades

Waikato Museum recently failed to secure national and international exhibits because of humidity and temperature control issues.

The museum also does not have an air-lock entry that keeps the inside temperature to 21 degrees with only 55 percent humidity, the optimum setting for housing art.

A major component of the renovation is the upgrade of the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system (HVAC) throughout the building, alongside the installation of an airlock entry at the Museum’s front entrance to improve climate control. These changes will ensure the collections are preserved in optimal conditions.

Additionally, the project includes electrical renewals and significant improvements to accessibility and amenities, such as upgraded public bathrooms and new flooring. Outside, the Museum’s forecourt will be revamped to enhance visitor experience and accessibility, and to strengthen connections and visibility from Victoria Street.

This project will complete the phased roof replacement that began in October 2023. The old ceramic tiles, over 30 years old, are being replaced with lightweight, robust long-run steel, ensuring the building remains watertight and reducing maintenance costs.

Future proofing

“This project is about more than just fixing current issues. It is about future-proofing this invaluable cultural institution,” Ms Cotton added.

“As the region’s home for more than 30,000 collection objects, Te Whare Taonga o Waikato is a unique space and we are making sure it can remain a taonga for future generations too. We are already looking forward to December and sharing the refreshed Museum including new and updated exhibitions with our manuhiri (visitors).”

Ms Cotton said the $7.2 million of work was already budgeted for in the current Long Term Plan and would not pose a new cost on ratepayers who were facing an unprecedented 19.9 per cent rise next year.

During the renovation, Exscite will continue to welcome visitors, and the Museum’s ground-floor classrooms will still host educational programmes and public events.

Visitor Experience team staff will either continue working at Exscite or be temporarily redeployed to assist with other Museum projects and Hamilton City Council facilities.

The Waikato Museum is expected to reopen on Friday, December 6, 2024. Upcoming exhibition programming for summer 2024/2025 will be announced in the coming months, promising an exciting and refreshed experience for all visitors.

Praneeta Mahajan is an Indian Newslink reporter based in Hamilton.

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