Museum replacement in the ‘early stages’

PROJECT leaders say they are increasingly optimistic a proposed museum will be built, while tempering expectations of any immediate change.

In October, South Otago Museum curator Dr Roz McKechnie said museum supporters were in the ‘‘early stages’’ of considering a replacement for the facility’s 68-year-old Balclutha premises.

Roz McKechnie

The former Ford Motors garage in Renfrew St suffers from a wide range of issues, including wet rot, borer, rusted framing and sub-code wiring and toilets.

That led to the removal of the building’s awning before Christmas, because it was causing a water leak during rainfall.

Also in October, South Otago-born business coach and director Stephen Broad-Paul, now of Nelson, extended an offer of support for the project through the Otago Daily Times.

Stephen Broad-Paul

Last week he said the offer had been warmly received, and he was now looking forward to helping the project in a consultative capacity.

‘‘It’s the early stages yet, but I’m absolutely keen to be involved as a sounding board who has a genuine passion for the project, while perhaps being able to see things from an outside perspective with fresh thinking.

‘‘If we can put another great facility in Balclutha’s new precinct alongside the [Clutha Community] Hub and Hotel South Otago [replacement], it can only be good for the area as a whole.’’

Dr McKechnie said museum officials continued to work behind the scenes to shape the initial stages of the project.

‘‘We’re planning to meet the council to harness their support, and we’ve talked to a Dunedin contractor with experience of building museums.

‘‘Then we need to start doing some definitive planning, and can begin fundraising in earnest.’’

However, she tempered expectations of any immediate change.

‘‘Stewart Island’s new museum said it was 20 years in the planning and 12 months in the making.

‘‘We started talking about this idea in 2008, so that gives us another three to five years before we’re due.’’

She said recent and ongoing remedial work meant the collection should remain safe for now.