Shanghai exhibition postponed

Otago Museum design services officer Murray McGuigan packs a yellow-eyed penguin exhibit to be...
Otago Museum design services officer Murray McGuigan packs a yellow-eyed penguin exhibit to be stored ready for shipment to China. Photo by Craig Baxter.
Otago Museum plans to stage a major mid-year exhibition at the opening of a big new museum in Shanghai have been postponed because of construction delays in China.

Otago Museum director Dr Ian Griffin said that during a recent visit to Dunedin's Chinese sister city, Shanghai, he had met the Chinese team responsible for the planned new Shanghai Natural History Museum.

Construction progress had been ''considerably slower'' than Chinese colleagues had expected, resulting in the Otago exhibition being staged a year later than planned.

''While unfortunate, this delay is entirely beyond our control and we have already reprogrammed our work plan for the next few months to take this change into account,'' Dr Griffin said in a recent report to the Otago Museum Trust Board.

Craig Scott, project manager for the exhibition, said several benefits arose from the delay.

Museum staff were ''excited to stage the exhibition at a time [next year] when the Shanghai Natural History Museum will be at its most popular''.

By delaying the show for a year, until about July next year, it would coincide with the peak summer visitor season for the new museum.

And, at that stage, the Otago exhibition could also attract even more attention by being staged after the Chinese museum's main formal opening, Mr Scott said.

The new exhibition date also fell within the time that the 20th anniversary of Shanghai-Dunedin sister city links was being celebrated, and he expected the Otago show would be the ''focal point'' of Dunedin's celebrations in China next year.

Otago Museum staff said the large Chinese museum was ''absolutely state-of-the-art in its build and design''.

Some unavoidable delays had pushed its projected completion out by another six months from its earlier planned July start date, Chinese officials had said. Dr Griffin had then been asked to consider delaying the delivery of the Otago exhibition, called ''Aotearoa: Nga taonga o te taiao New Zealand: The wonders of the natural world''.

Otago Museum staff recently moved 14 large storage crates into the museum by forklift, from an off-site storage facility, and it had been planned to crate up the Otago show's 250 exhibits and send them tnext month.

Officials said the crates would now be kept at the museum, and staff would try to minimise the double-handling of exhibits, which would go to China next year.

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