Redeveloped museum pleases crowds, director

Dancers from the Natyaloka School of Indian Classical Dance perform during the opening weekend of...
Dancers from the Natyaloka School of Indian Classical Dance perform during the opening weekend of the redeveloped Toitu Otago Settlers Museum. Photos by Craig Baxter.
Some of the visitors who gathered to watch the entertainment during the opening  of the museum at...
Some of the visitors who gathered to watch the entertainment during the opening of the museum at thje weekend.

Thousands of people have been transported back in time as they flowed through the revamped Toitu Otago Settlers Museum.

''Fantastic'', ''amazing'' ''awesome'' were adjectives used by some of the many visitors to the museum yesterday as people wandered through the social history museum, freshly opened after a two-and-a-half-year $37.5 million redevelopment.

The building has been extended, with a new building and the refurbishment of an old railways depot doubling its gallery space, and innovative displays and interactive technology bringing it into the modern day.

But it was the past it featured that attracted many.

''It takes you way back in time,'' Englishman Ernie Dobson, who was on holiday in New Zealand, said.

For the children, it was being able to touch and interact with many displays.

Museum director Linda Wigley said visitor numbers were being monitored electronically but the data was not available yesterday. She hoped to have some figures available today. The weekend could not have gone better and there was a sense of relief that the museum had opened in time, she said.

''We're elated. We had so many people through and some really positive feedback."

Many she spoke to said they would be coming back as there was so much to see and do, she said.

With Pixie Town opening today, she did not think visitor numbers would be slowing down, especially with the holiday season close.

''I don't think it's going to stop."

The grand opening weekend followed Maori and civic opening ceremonies on Friday, and featured local music and community performances from salsa to Indian classical dance and capoeria displays, Japanese drumming, traditional Polish dances and wartime songs from a 60s-plus entertainment group.

 

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