Face-lift, insulation part of plans for South Otago Museum



It will be ‘‘full steam ahead’’ for the physical development of a Clutha museum now its staff and volunteers have had a chance to regroup.

South Otago Museum acting curator Roz McKechnie said plans were under way for what could amount to a complete overhaul of the more than 60-year-old institution.

It was unclear what the final cost would be, but it could end up being more than $100,000.

‘‘We’re going to be starting a lot of fundraising initiatives around the town,’’ Dr McKechnie said.

‘‘Starting off with a grocery hamper raffle. We’ve had raffles before that have been very successful.’’

For this the museum would try to enlist the help of a supermarket, which assisted its fundraising efforts in the past.

‘‘We also have items donated by some of our members, including some lovely blankets from Nepal,’’ she said.

Following a structural engineer’s report at the end of 2019 that deemed the building 90% earthquake proof, the South Otago Museum board had the all-clear to make upgrades.

However, it had needed to wait until after the lockdown to get things moving again.

‘‘We will start our fundraising ventures as soon as we can . . .We’re planning on opening again in July.”

One of the most pressing concerns was the temperature inside the building, which ran cold, especially in winter.

‘‘It’s not the ideal temperature for people or artefacts — 18degC to 20degC is the ideal.

‘‘We just can’t do that at the moment.’’

A plan was in place to insulate the outside walls of the structure to improve heat conservation.

Better storage facilities for the museum’s many items was also on the cards.

To catch the eyes of passers› by, the museum would receive a face-lift, shifting the entrance to the middle of the front face of the building, in a design with Maori carvings on either side of the door.

The design would also include an image of the Clutha Bridge on one side and a paddle steamer on the other.

The Clutha District Council gave $58,000 at six-monthly intervals to be split among six museums, but this money was restricted to reimbursing each facility’s rates, electricity and insurance bills.

‘‘So we had to have the money up front to pay for those,’’ Dr McKechnie said.

The largest financial hurdles could only be surmounted with grant applications.