$280,000 museum extension work resumes



Work has resumed on a much-awaited expansion of a rural Clutha museum.

Late last year the final funds were secured to build a $280,000, 16m by 10m extension to the Owaka Museum to house historical items.

The new space would be climate-controlled and allow more than 1000 uncatalogued items to be viewed, logged and assessed for future display, museum manager Mike McPhee said.

“The builder was just getting prepared to pour the new foundations and floor when the lockdown happened.”

The build was back in motion at the end of April, when the country moved into Alert Level 3.

“The concrete slab has been poured and he’s just out there now getting ready to start the wall frame.”

Construction was not the only thing halted by Covid-19, with Owaka residents and tourists not allowed to enter the building during lockdown.

Mr McPhee said April was usually a busy time of year for the facility due to school holidays.
“Last April we had 1362 domestic visitors and 496 international.”

The Owaka Museum falls under the umbrella of Museums Aotearoa, but shares a building with the Clutha District Council-run information centre and library.

Alongside nationwide uncertainty over Alert Level 2 rules, this meant the date the museum could reopen was a source of confusion.

“Because the museum shares a building with the council service, we’re just going to follow the council protocols.”

A council spokeswoman said many issues regarding the opening of council›run facilities would take a while longer to iron out.

“Under Level 2 we want to be able to open our service centres to the public . . . but we have to work out how we’ll make the buildings work, because even without the restrictions we’re still trying to stay safe in the space.”