Numbers put pressure on museum

As visitor numbers at the Toitu Otago Settlers Museum continue to rise, the museum risks becoming a ''victim of our success'', director Jennifer Evans says.

The museum used to attract about 65,000 visitors a year, but since reopening in late 2012 after its $37.5 million redevelopment, attendance has greatly increased.

In an activity report tabled at a recent museum board meeting, Ms Evans noted that 173,543 visits had been made to the museum in the first seven months of the financial year, ending January 31.

This was up from 161,240 for the previous equivalent period, and showed the museum's 180,000 visitation target would again be exceeded.

A key factor in the museum's success was attracting repeat visitors.

And continuing to refresh exhibits and providing a lively and appealing programme of exhibitions and other museum activities resulted in more people returning, she said.

Among the museum's recent attractions is the highly popular Dunedin's Great War exhibition, which runs until May 3, and has already attracted more than 100,000 visits.

The museum's growing popularity was positive, but the museum was also facing growing pressure on its staff, she said.

The institution's busy public programme of events and activities was organised by a half-time staff member.

And Ms Evans said she sometimes found it hard to obtain reports from some museum staff, because they were busy with other work.

Dunedin City Council group manager arts and culture Bernie Hawke, who is also a member of the board, said growing numbers of visitors to the Dunedin Public Art Gallery and to the Dunedin central library, were also adding to staff workloads at those institutions.

Museum officials said the Toitu museum had 28.5 full-time-equivalent staff, and the Chinese Garden, also run through Toitu, a further 3.8 FTE staff.

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