Museum ship-shape for tourist season

Resounding success . . . Port Chalmers Maritime Museum honorary curator Ian Church (left)...
Resounding success . . . Port Chalmers Maritime Museum honorary curator Ian Church (left) discusses aspects of stage one of the museum's redevelopment with Port Chalmers Historical Society president Norman Ledgerwood (centre) and secretary John Moodie. With stage one of the redevelopment virtually complete, the museum has reopened to the public and cruise ship visitors. Photo by Brenda Harwood
Light, space and neatly arranged artefacts greet visitors to Port Chalmers Maritime Museum now that stage one of the museum's redevelopment is complete.

"After major construction and thousands of hours of volunteer work, we are ready to welcome the public and cruise ship passengers once more," Port Chalmers Historical Society president Norman Ledgerwood said.

Finished on time and within budget, at a cost of about $120,000, the work has transformed the museum, making it spacious and inviting.

"We are absolutely thrilled with the result, and the people who have seen it so far have been amazed by the change," Mr Ledgerwood said.

Construction work by Naylor Love builders had extensively remodelled the museum's public areas, including shifting a staircase and opening up a large mezzanine space in the main area.

The ground floor housed an extensive maritime collection, while the mezzanine focused on the military history of Port Chalmers, Mr Ledgerwood said.

Also on the ground floor, a small cinema space has been created and two rooms have been combined into one large space, which now houses a Port Chalmers social history gallery.

Upstairs, the rooms that were formerly quarters for the Port Chalmers postmaster have been re-named the Ian Church Archives and Research Centre.

This includes a maritime reference library, where materials are being digitally catalogued by librarian David Cameron, and a work room for researchers.

Fire protection had been upgraded throughout the building.

"We are still working our way through boxes full of fascinating items from early Port Chalmers maritime history - it is an extensive collection, " Mr Ledgerwood said.

Since preparation for the redevelopment started, in April, a team of dedicated volunteers had put in more than 2300 hours of work, he said.

This had included moving and protecting displays during the construction, cleaning and setting up displays afterwards and cataloguing thousands of documents, artefacts, magazines and pictures.

The work had been done under the expert guidance of local historians Ian Church and Celia Wright, with expert advice from Toitu Otago Settlers Museum.

"We have been very fortunate to have such a great team of keen volunteers who have been willing to tackle this enormous task," Mr Ledgerwood said.

The historical society, which owns the museum, plans to complete the redevelopment in the new year, when about $55,000 worth of earthquake strengthening will be done.

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