New donations have contributed to MTG Hawke's Bay's storage issues, director Douglas Lloyd Jenkins says.

Napier City Council is commissioning a broad independent review of the museum and art gallery following an outcry over a lack of storage at the new $18 million facility.

Napier Mayor Bill Dalton said yesterday the main reason there was less storage space than anticipated at the new facility was that exhibits had not been unpacked from wooden crates used to move to temporary off-site housing during the museum's renovations.

To protect from the risk of earthquake damage, items had been kept in the crates.


"The intention was always that [the crates] should be used for transport and for protection in the temporary storage only but now we're being told, in light of the Christchurch experience, that we should actually store the collection in these great wooden boxes," Mr Dalton said.

"There was never any intention to store tonnes of firewood in the collection storage area."

Hastings Mayor Lawrence Yule is among those to question whether crates were necessary given the new building had a high earthquake protection rating.

But Mr Lloyd Jenkins said un-boxed museum items were susceptible to earthquakes in the same way as stock on a supermarket shelves.

"The building can be fine but the stock goes flying and gets smashed to smithereens.

To unpack would be to risk the collection and the whole museum is focused around minimising risk to its collection."

He said confidence in the new facility had encouraged donations of important items to the Hawke's Bay Museums Trust which owns the MTG collection.

"Important collectors, owners and families have said the time is right for [their items] to go into public ownership. It's our job to look after them properly."

The trust was discerning what it took into its collection and had been offered "high quality items of importance to Hawke's Bay," he said.

Mr Dalton said the MTG review would look at a full range of issues from how items were stored through to what collections were most appropriate for Hawke's Bay.

It would also look at the relationship between the Museums Trust, as the collection owner, and the Napier City and Hastings District Councils which fund its storage through their contributions to MTG.

Napier City Council CEO Wayne Jack said yesterday the review would clarify issues around storage but also address pricing for museum access.

The $15 entry fee has been widely criticised.

Mr Lloyd Jenkins said he welcomed a review of the fee.

"No gallery director in the world wants to have to charge for his institution but all of us have to in different ways," he said.

"We're looking forward to the review looking at that because we believe very strongly that we reflect our community and we're involved and engaged with our community and we love to see them here."