Otago Settlers Museum archivist Jill Haley yesterday boxes
several volumes of information about immigrants gaining
assisted passage to New Zealand in the 19th century. Photo
by Gerard O'Brien.
Most of the Otago Settlers Museum's archives section will
be closed to the public until the museum's redevelopment is
completed in late 2012, but the portrait photograph collection
will remain available.
The roof of the former NZR bus station building will be
replaced this year as part of the $35 million redevelopment,
requiring the archives to be packed away for safekeeping.
The archives have about 1000 users each year.
Museum staff said photographs in the museum's portrait
gallery could be seen there as usual, and about 6000 portrait
photographs from the archives had already been digitised and
would soon be made available via computer.
Museum director Linda Wigley said details of how the digital
images would be accessed had yet to be determined.
Museum officials said it was likely at least some material
would be provided via a national museum internet site.
Some other parts of the settlers' museum would be closed to
the public from time to time during the redevelopment.
Some other information would be made available via computer.
Ms Wigley said the archives were closed to the public on
December 24 last year.
She regretted any inconvenience, but said it was necessary to
protect the safety of both the archives and the public.
"We want to minimise the disruption, but it's going to be a
building site and we have to close certain areas."
While staff were still available and would help as much as
they could with queries, some of the archives would not be
Redeveloping the archives and research facilities was
essential "if we are to improve access to our archive
holdings and meet the demands of an increasing number and
variety of users", she said.
After 2012, the new archive would be more than twice as big,
and better than the previous facility, offering greater
access and space for researchers and collections.
The new facilities would offer a new research archive and
stack, and a "hands-on" computer facility, where visitors,
particularly school children and students, could search the
archive and download information from the museum's database
themselves, without necessarily handling original material.
The Dunedin branch of the New Zealand Society of Genealogists
has recently been packing up parts of its own archives
library, long housed rent-free at the museum.
Early next month, that library will be shifted to new rented
premises at King Edward Court, the former King Edward
Technical College complex, in upper Stuart St.
Branch secretary Janet Rutherford said that the library would
reopen for branch members mid to late next month.
Members had initially been surprised about having to move out
of the museum, but the branch had been given about three
months' notice, which was a "reasonable" time to find
alternative accommodation, although this had proved
difficult, Mrs Rutherford said.
Branch members would not be inconvenienced by the museum
archives' closure, with continued access to the branch's own
facilities, as well as resources at the Hocken Library and
Dunedin Public Library, she said.