World's newest museum set to open

By Roger Moroneyroger moroney@hbtoday co nz

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Contractors at work yesterday putting the finishing touches to exterior signage and lighting. Photo / Paul Taylor
Contractors at work yesterday putting the finishing touches to exterior signage and lighting. Photo / Paul Taylor

The staff and contractors at the MTG (Museum Theatre Gallery) in Napier are in countdown mode.

The newest museum in the world is set to open its doors in just five days with a grand community gala, and staff have been putting in the hours to ensure everything will be ready and that people will finally see for themselves the unique "wow" factor it possesses.

"It has been a huge labour of love for all of us here," MTG director Douglas Lloyd Jenkins said as work continued.

Just after 10am yesterday five contractors' vans were parked outside the MTG in Herschell St and wiring and signage-fixing work was being carried out on the main Tennyson St entrance foyer.

"We've been so grateful for all the support we have received and it is a pleasure to be able to celebrate this opening with everyone at last."

The redevelopment of the old Hawke's Bay Museum and Art Gallery into the MTG has been a three-year $18 million mission funded by local and central government as well as contributions from supporters and patrons throughout the community.

Specially designed glass cases from Belgium, high-technology stabilisation systems from Japan (to prevent damage in the event of an earthquake) and what Mr Lloyd Jenkins described as "cutting edge" interactive technology to enhance the visitors' experiences make up the MTG landscape. He was confident people would be delighted with the newest addition to their city and region.

"We've found the perfect balance between old and new, restoring key features like the original museum's entrance and incorporating them into the new building."

As if to emphasise the museum and its many thousands of items and exhibits are back home, three of the opening exhibitions all draw on the concept of "home" and its interpretations. "Take These With You When You Leave" features rare and often unusual treasures from the extensive historical archive, "Architecture of the Heart" is a colourful and eclectic collection of stunning images, paintings and items while "Ukaipo o tatau whakapapa" is a unique exhibition of Maori taonga - some of it sourced from other museums including Te Papa.

There will also be longer-term installations like the 1931 Hawke's Bay Earthquake display.

"MTG will be a jewel in the cultural crown of Hawke's Bay, celebrating the art of storytelling, which we hope will be embraced by locals and visitors alike," Mr Lloyd-Jenkins said.

MTG Hawke's Bay will be officially opened by Napier Mayor Barbara Arnott and Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage Chris Finlayson at 9.30am, Saturday, September 21. The doors will be open to the public for a short walk-through between 10.15am and 6pm.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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