Museum: keeping trams not sustainable

The Takapuna DCT No 66, pictured at the Exchange, in Dunedin, in the early 1950s, will go to...
The Takapuna DCT No 66, pictured at the Exchange, in Dunedin, in the early 1950s, will go to Christchurch’s Tramways Historical Society. PHOTO: GRAHAM STEWART
Two historic Dunedin trams are being offloaded from a Dunedin museum, one heading north and the other to be dismantled.

The fate of trams Takapuna DCT No 66 and Sydney Bogie  was decided at a Toitū Otago Settlers Museum Board meeting on Wednesday.

A council report recommended the board endorse the director’s decision to de-accession both trams to the Tramways Historical Society, in Christchurch. 

Toitū director Cam McCracken said the museum’s role in managing its collection included identifying items that "may not be the best things for us to be holding, for a variety of reasons".

The museum’s storage was a finite resource, and in a contemporary environment required staff to assess the sustainability of its items.

Both trams were identified as items that were not in the museum’s best interests to remain in storage, he said. 

"We are the custodians of an extraordinary number of treasures which tell the story of the lived history of Ōtepoti Dunedin and that is really vital."

"As with any collecting, it doesn’t hurt to take a contemporary look, in hindsight, at some of those decisions."

Mr McCracken said the museum lacked the skills and resources to restore the trams, and there were better endeavours to focus their attention on.

It was more viable, while still expensive, for the tramways society to restore the Takapuna.

It was also the best custodian for the Bogie, which was "in pretty poor nick", he said.

Board member and deputy mayor Cherry Lucas said passing the Bogie on to the tramways society, to be repurposed into patterns and materials, was a much better outcome than leaving it sitting in storage, never to see the light of day. 

Board member Peter Smith asked if it was possible to retrieve the Takapuna once it was restored by the tramways society, as it was "totally beyond" the museum’s capability to restore it.

Mr McCracken said storing even a restored Takapuna would  be challenging, and there were already two beautifully restored trams in the museum’s collection that the public interacted with.

The board unanimously passed the motion to endorse the de-accession of both trams. , PIJF cadet reporter