Waitaki Museum Re-Opens

Published on 07 March 2023

Museum staff

Waitaki Museum has been undergoing renovations with new spaces and increased accessibility making it even easier to appreciate our local history.

Work on the building has included earthquake strengthening the historic atheneum building, installing a lift to make the upper floor accessible to all, adding two new exhibition spaces, a new education space, a refurbished archive enquiry area and a refurbished museum collection store.

The completion of the works at the Waitaki Museum follow the reopening of the Waitaki Archive in December and the team are thrilled to have both projects complete and are ready to welcome the public to their opening weekend.

The first of the new exhibition spaces is to house temporary exhibitions. Cultural Facilities Operations Manager Ms Searle said, “The museum team are looking forward to regular changing exhibitions, showcasing more from our collection and highlighting local events of significance. We also now have the capacity to host touring exhibitions.”

Museum Exhibitions and Collections Curator, Henry Buckenham said, “Our first exhibition ‘Snapshot’ seeks to demonstrate the rich diversity of our community through objects collected, photographed, and talked about. Sharing the stories of recent migrants through personal treasures.”

The second part of the new exhibition spaces focuses more on recent history, from 1900 to the near present with spaces divided out into different eras. Ms Searle said, “Similar to the displays which opened in our downstairs galleries in 2020, this space has been designed for the museum’s small team to be able to change out sections on a regular basis. The exhibition has lots of familiar local stories like Lane’s Emulsion and the story of the Memorial Oaks scheme but also some less well-known parts of local history.”

The opening exhibition in this space is ‘Ballad of the Waitaki’, Mr Buckenham said “We chose this exhibition as it is easy to dismiss the events of the recent past as being insignificant compared to the grandeur of our Victorian heritage. However, it is important that us and our children understand how we came to stand where we do, and this period is a vital part of that story.”

Ms Searle continued “This project would not have been possible without the funding we have received from Otago Community Trust, the Lottery Significant Projects Fund and Waitaki District Council in support of this project. We are so grateful for their support and look forward to sharing the changes we have made with this funding with our community and visitors.”

The Waitaki Museum team looks forward to welcoming the public to the museum at their opening weekend across Saturday 11 and Sunday 12 March, with extended opening hours from 10am – 4pm.

Key dates and times at Waitaki Museum & Archive:

  • Wednesday 8 March 2023 9am-10am Opening morning tea (media welcome)
  • Saturday 11 and Sunday 12 March 2023 Open 10am – 4pm Extended opening hours