Posted by Jenny Haworth

Whale of a Tale

Speaker Stephen Pennruscoe - Canterbury Museum, Head of Public Engagement
Stephen, who has a background in museum exhibition management, was lured to Christchurch to head the team  modernising the Canterbury museum.  It is no easy task.
The museum is a conglomerate of buildings some of them designed by Benjamin Mountford and therefore have a list A Heritage classification. The rest were built as the museum needed extra display space.  To create a modern museum based around an atrium some of these will have to demolished.
The first task has been to empty the museum of the 2.1 million items that they have on display. Then some buildings will be demolished and a new museum created around a central atrium. This is where our great blue whale skeleton will be displayed. Ours is the biggest in the world.
The museum will gradually be re-constructed from the atrium. We are promised a large Antarctic collection which will focus on the heroic age of the discovery. Also the 19th century street will probably return.
The new building project will open up the basement, which will provide better storage, some exhibition space and a link with the Robert McDougall art gallery behind. This will become a display area for decorative arts.
There are many problems including removing asbestos from the buildings and working on the tight footprint of the museum – there is no more land available. All buildings will be base isolated in case of further earthquakes.
Re-opening is planned for 2028.
Jenny Haworth