Redeveloped museum pleases crowds, director

Thousands of people have been transported back in time as they flowed through the revamped Toitu Otago Settlers Museum.

''Fantastic'', ''amazing'' ''awesome'' were adjectives used by some of the many visitors to the museum yesterday as people wandered through the social history museum, freshly opened after a two-and-a-half-year $37.5 million redevelopment.

The building has been extended, with a new building and the refurbishment of an old railways depot doubling its gallery space, and innovative displays and interactive technology bringing it into the modern day.

But it was the past it featured that attracted many.

''It takes you way back in time,'' Englishman Ernie Dobson, who was on holiday in New Zealand, said.

For the children, it was being able to touch and interact with many displays.

Museum director Linda Wigley said visitor numbers were being monitored electronically but the data was not available yesterday. She hoped to have some figures available today. The weekend could not have gone better and there was a sense of relief that the museum had opened in time, she said.

''We're elated. We had so many people through and some really positive feedback."

Many she spoke to said they would be coming back as there was so much to see and do, she said.

With Pixie Town opening today, she did not think visitor numbers would be slowing down, especially with the holiday season close.

''I don't think it's going to stop."

The grand opening weekend followed Maori and civic opening ceremonies on Friday, and featured local music and community performances from salsa to Indian classical dance and capoeria displays, Japanese drumming, traditional Polish dances and wartime songs from a 60s-plus entertainment group.



'Guadalajara': Nice that you enjoyed your 'immersion' experience.
Unfortunately the amount of money spent on the old 'Early Settlers' Hall' must justify itself in a longer time-frame. It's not the crowds attracted on a well-publicised opening day which are the point at issue. It is whether the 'Toitu' has sufficient 'pulling-power' to still be attracting punters a year, two years and beyond, down-the-track.
Inflated expectations are easy to justify in the short term, when everyone wants to see what is in the building (even if only to see where the money went). If the interactive displays etc. are not sufficient of an attraction to encourage repeat visits and the word not 'spread' amongst those yet to visit, we become dependent mainly upon visitors to our city for on-going patronage.
The track record of many such past attractions does not inspire confidence. Get back to me in a couple of years, with facts and figures which show whether our own boutique 'Te Papa' was a sound investment,. [Abridged]



@ Ian Smith - I consider preserving the region's heritage as a core function of the council!

Another day, another parade to rain on

Come on Ian.  Give the place some credit.  From what I saw on the news the other night, it looks truly world class,  and I can't wait to visit and immerse myself in its various exhibits (I'll make sure I coincide the visit with a S15 or AB game).

I completely understand that increasing rates are not ideal for "retired people on fixed incomes", but surely there are more demographic groups in Dunedin than solely "retired people on fixed incomes". It's impossible for any organisation (eg) DCC, to keep all the people happy all the time. [Abridged]


I love the Maori name for the museum. I work in the area of language and agree that this name will help the museum to stand out in the crowd.

Here we go again

For crying out loud Ian! Enjoy the Settlers for what it is - an excellent social history museum that Dunedin can be very proud of. [Abridged]

Is it merely curiosity?

Flag away opening week. What visitor figures will this 'Toitu' malarky be returning a couple of years from now? Great things were predicted for the Chinese Garden as I recall; the stadium was meant to revitalise Dunedin, realise 'synergies', and cause us all to be 'vibrant' (whatever that means); instead it asphyxiates the city.
Let's hope that new legislation which will force local authorities to 'deliver' on their primary function -,delivering quality 'core' services rather than indoor 'theme parks' - will soon begin to bite into budgets sufficiently to cause our disastrously entrepreneurial council to return to its primary function, and restrict future flights of fancy to what is able to be afforded. [Abridged]


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