Museum to keep annex open all year

Otago Museum's H.D. Skinner Annex will be opened to the public year round. Photo by Linda Robertson.
Otago Museum's H.D. Skinner Annex will be opened to the public year round. Photo by Linda Robertson.
Otago Museum is planning to keep its recently redeveloped H.D. Skinner Annex open to the public throughout the year, to allow increased community use.

The annex was officially opened in the former Dunedin North post office last August after a $1.6 million redevelopment. It was named in honour of Dr Skinner, a former Otago Museum director (1937-1957).

Museum director Dr Ian Griffin recently said the previous museum management team had planned to close the annex to the public during the annual summer break.

''However, in my view, having invested so much money in the space it is right and proper that we maximise public access to it,'' Dr Griffin said in a recent report to the Otago Museum Trust Board.

Therefore, from March this year, the annex would be reopened and exhibitions would be planned ''year round'', he said.

Originally, annex use was to have focused mainly on commercial events, including conferences, with ''no public access''.

But Dr Griffin said it would be closed to the public only if a function was booked.

The recent ''Heritage Lost and Found: Our Changing Cityscape'' exhibition, which had been displayed in the Postmaster Gallery at the annex, had been ''very well received'' by the community.

This show, which was developed with the New Zeald Historic Places Trust, would now be reinstalled, and, in response to ''public demand'', would return to public display from March.

Lost and found

The significance of the recently closed exhibition for local residents and city visitors was perhaps, at the time, under-appreciated by the exhibiting parties. Dunedin City has formerly lacked such an insightful, rational and easily grasped interactive exhibition on the historical layers of the built environment - signposting the form and change to our cultural heritage landscape and urban context, for better or worse since early days.

This is a planned city (thank you, surveyor Charles Kettle) - we should always honour Dunedin's uniqueness and intricate textures representatively and graphically; know the 'before and afters', the losses, additions and discoveries; be able to quickly recount how the 'cityscape' (note the normal spelling!) has evolved, with just these type visual aids and new evolving IT. 'Heritage Lost and Found' exactly captures the spirit of where we are!

It's great news the exhibition is set to continue - in a broader sense, the exhibition is something to build on and develop into the future as a permanent visitor display worthy of any sensitive location for public education. It can take special refreshes and add-ons as research into the merits and quirks of the architecture (our collective legacy) continues through the work of New Zealand Historic Places Trust, Dunedin City Council, Otago Museum, related city archives and collections, archaeologists, building owners, researchers, and professional architectural historians of the calibre of Peter Entwisle and David Murray. The combined effort, its coordination, contains so much power, potential and publishing opportunity. Boggles the mind, then there's the overwhelming 'pasture' for design excellence to cover the brief...


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