Settlers museum board meets but public excluded

The Otago Settlers Museum Board yesterday excluded the public, citing potential "prejudice or disadvantage" to commercial activities, in order to discuss a possible change of the museum's name.

The board discussed a report on the issue from senior management of the Dunedin City Council-owned museum, and then made a recommendation.

This will be considered by the council community development committee on Monday, and later this month the full council will make the final decision at another meeting.

It is understood there is strong support on the board for retaining the existing museum name.

In a recent online poll of eight possible museum names, 51% (1694) of the more than 3300 votes cast supported the "Otago Settlers Museum" name and a further 6% backed a shorter version: "The Settlers".

Some other people suggest that given the substantial cost of the museum's redevelopment project - at least $39 million - a fresh new "brand" and name might have wider appeal as the museum seeks to greatly increase visitor numbers.

At yesterday's meeting, board members discussed a couple of other agenda items, including recommending possible changes to museum opening hours, and then moved on to the public-excluded item.

After at least one board member inquired why the public was being excluded, DCC city strategy and development general manager Sue Bidrose briefly left the meeting to contact DCC governance manager Sandy Graham by telephone to clarify matters.

Ms Bidrose then explained to the board that commercial issues were indeed involved, and indicated that if a possible new name for the museum was revealed prematurely, rights for potential names could be taken up by others.

It was not intended to keep the name matter secret, and the eventual outcome would be released after a later decision by the council, she said.

Board chairwoman Dorothy Page said in a later interview that an "interesting and careful discussion" had taken place in committee, and the ultimate decision would be taken by the council.

She believed the council would give "considerable weight" to the community poll outcome.



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