Discovery World refit part of museum upgrade proposal

Otago Museum officials are considering a draft plan which proposes spending up to $2 million to ''completely refit'' the museum's Discovery World science centre and create a ''flagship science communication gallery''.

The proposal was to undertake some of the biggest changes at the science centre for more than a decade, and was part of a draft strategic plan, tabled at an Otago Museum Trust Board meeting this week.

The museum's stakeholders had earlier indicated that the institution needed to invest significantly in its ''core museum offering'' - namely its galleries, the draft plan noted.

''In the run-up to our 150th birthday in 2018, we intend to make this a clear priority,'' the plan report said.

''Discovery World is our most popular gallery, appealing both to family and schools audiences.

''However, the gallery has not changed significantly since it first opened, and the time has come to completely refit it and create a flagship science communication gallery of which the museum will be proud.''

It was proposed, in 2014-15, up to $2 million be spent on renovating Discovery World, developing a new performance area, a new laboratory, and new curiosity-driven interactive exhibits.

The museum also intended to ''explore the option'' of introducing a medium-sized planetarium, with 150 seats, but this part of the project would be subject to a full business review.

The museum's newly appointed marketing and development manager, Caroline Cook, said Discovery World, which included the museum's Tropical Forest butterfly attraction, remained highly popular.

The forest would remain a key part of the new-look science centre, Ms Cook said.

But the museum wished to ensure the area remained ''vibrant and exciting''.

Museum visitors were now carrying and using smart phones and other mobile devices, and a further challenge was to cater for the interests of such visitors, including, potentially, to provide information they might be able to access via their phones, she said.

The board had discussed the draft plan but no final decisions had been taken and the board would consider matters in more detail in February.

Any refitting plans would also be subject to availability of funds, she said.



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