Dunedin's cultural reputation boosted

Toitu Otago Settlers Museum. Photo by ODT.
Toitu Otago Settlers Museum. Photo by ODT.
The Toitu Otago Settlers Museum's $37.5 million redevelopment is adding to Dunedin's growing reputation as a nationally significant culture and heritage visitor destination, museum director Linda Wigley says.

There was considerable potential to develop ''packages'' involving visits to the museum and other attractions, such as the Dunedin Chinese Garden, but more investigation work was needed, she told a recent board meeting. The museum was gaining significant national publicity, including through national magazines, and Tourism Dunedin had been bringing media representatives through the institution.

Board member John Bezett said it was important that any initiatives, such as developing combined visit ''packages'', did not disadvantage other organisations, such as the Otago Museum.

Ms Wigley said Dunedin was fortunate in having several international-class museums, and other cultural attractions, including Olveston and the Dunedin Public Art Gallery.

The aim was to work collaboratively with other institutions, she said.

Board member Lee Vandervis said there was a clear ''win/win'' potential to grow the city's overall cultural and heritage visitor market.

The redeveloped settlers museum added to the wealth of offerings now available, making it clear Dunedin had become a significant cultural-heritage tourism destination in its own right, he said.

Tourism Dunedin chief executive Hamish Saxton told the Otago Daily Times the ''vast improvement'' at the settlers museum was adding to public interest in Dunedin's major heritage institutions.

Significant redevelopment work at several of the city's heritage institutions, including the Otago Museum, clearly showed the city was not a ''backwater''.

The city's high-quality heritage institutions, and many other historic buildings, amounted to a key aspect ''that differentiates Dunedin from other destinations''.

Otago Museum collections, research and experience director Clare Wilson said the settlers redevelopment had not harmed attendance at the Otago Museum.

Recently-released figures showed its December attendance was 34,214, up about 200 on the previous December.

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