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$9m in funds to house and show off taonga

MTG Hawke’s Bay had very exciting news last week – receiving the full $9 million requested from the Regional Culture and Heritage Fund through the Ministry for Culture and Heritage. This funding, the second largest ever given by this fund, acknowledges the importance of the project we are undertaking and the quality of work in the planning to-date.

The new facility in Hastings will not be a second museum – it will not have displays or exhibitions. It will be a place where the taonga and objects we hold on behalf of the community are kept and protected but also made readily accessible to the public. It will be a place where visitors can access the archives and research the treasures and information held within. It will be a place where whanau can come and view taonga related to their family. It will be a place where special interest groups can come and view specific items, such as embroidery pieces, war memorabilia, decorative arts, etc. It will be a place where EIT students can come and see items relevant to their studies. It will be a place where school groups can come and experience education programmes that utilise the collection as part of learning. It will be a place where visitors can come and experience a guided tour of the collection – seeing the range and variety of objects held within and the level of care and protection it takes to ensure these treasures are secured for future generations.

The care and management of museum collections is a complex and important business. Collections need to be held in a certain environment with controlled temperature and humidity to ensure objects do not deteriorate. They need to be packed and stored carefully to ensure vulnerable elements of an item are supported, that they will not be accidentally knocked by people or other objects, and that they can be lifted and carried appropriately. Each object in the collection also needs to be registered on a database system that details what it is, where it came from, provenance and ownership information and, importantly, where it is currently located. Each time an object is accessed, moved, put on display or lent out to another institution, its location needs to be updated on the database so that collection staff never lose track of where a particular item is at any given time.

As items are selected for loan or display they need to be prepared – this can include attaching hanging mechanisms, creating a mount to support the item, padding and carefully fitting to a mannequin or any other requirements needed. With our collection, which is largely stored offsite at present, and in the future, when fully stored offsite within the new facility, items need to be transported to the museum where the exhibition will be held. Even something as, seemingly simple as making the collection available to a visiting group, requires planning and preparation.

The new facility in Hastings has been designed to provide the best possible level of care and protection for the collection, to ensure it is still here and in excellent condition for future generations. Designed with access and visitors in mind, the facility will have a dedicated space for archive researchers, who appreciate a quiet space to concentrate and undertake their research. There will also be a viewing room which will be a multi-purpose space used for a variety of needs including; group visits, education, exhibition preparation, public programmes and even occasionally as a function space.

All of this means that MTG Hawke’s Bay’s valuable and nationally significant collection will be better protected while at the same time being more accessible to the public. That is what makes this project so exciting and, while there is still a bit of funding to complete, the $9 million Regional Culture and Heritage Fund announcement by the Ministry means this project will now have the green light to get underway.

Published in the Hawke’s Bay Today newspaper 17 December 2022 and written by Laura Vodanovich, Director at MTG Hawke’s Bay.

Image: MTG storage and access facility

19 December 2022

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