Push for support for museums continues

The Dunedin, Christchurch and Auckland metropolitan museums plan another approach to the Government seeking funds to support their internationally important collections.

Ian Griffin. Photo: Otago Museum
Ian Griffin. Photo: Otago Museum
Otago Museum director Ian Griffin said the institutions had approached the Ministry for Culture and Heritage about funding issues last October, but support with operational funds had not yet been achieved.

Another submission would be made in the next few months to relevant government departments and the Government.

"I’m always hopeful of a positive result, but I think there’s still some mahi [work] to do before we get over the line," he said.

The three museums were continuing to craft a joint proposal.

A key equity issue was that Te Papa and the three metropolitan museums all safeguarded internationally significant collections, but the Government did not provide operational funding for the three institutions in Dunedin, Christchurch and Auckland.

About three-quarters of New Zealand’s "national collection" was effectively held by those three museums, "and we’re all funded by ratepayers", Dr Griffin said.

The Otago Museum’s needs were relatively modest, and a million dollars of operational funding support would make a huge difference.

There were security and other benefits, including better earthquake protection, in having many of the nation’s treasures safeguarded by institutions throughout the country.

However, operational support for the Otago Museum was provided only by the Dunedin City Council and other contributing councils, despite the importance of the museum’s treasures.

Dr Griffin was still concerned that although the museum had benefited from the wage subsidy during the Covid-19 pandemic, the metropolitan museums had otherwise fallen between the specific Government support which had been organised for small museums, and the extra funding for Te Papa.

He was encouraged that the directors of the three metropolitan institutions had joined forces, and media attention had been gained.

It could take a "long haul" of up to two years to resolve the issues, but he hoped it would not be that long.

john.gibb@odt.co.nz

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