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Auckland Museum's interim director, Sir Don McKinnon, is switching its focus from entertainment to reviving collections and research.

Sir Don, appointed on May 30 to help the museum put a troubled period behind it, said yesterday that the need for rebalancing became clear after consultation with staff and supporters.

Over the next six to eight months, more resources would be dedicated to nurturing the academic side.

"It is a matter of bringing back into balance that side of the museum," said the former diplomat and politician.

Dr Vanda Vitali, who quit in mid-March after a tempestuous two years at the helm, tried to liven up the museum but drew flak for pouring technical and financial resources into showy productions.

Although he made no reference to the Canadian, Sir Don said money budgeted to recruit researchers and curators in the previous year had been diverted to other uses.

"It is clear this side of the museum is drifting a bit and if there is one thing a museum tries to do it is to have a great array of collections while having the people who really know something about them.

"I would like to think we have people out there who see this positively, want to come to the museum and get involved in the archaeology or ethnology sections and do the kind of work this museum was renowned for over 100 years."

Recruiting outsiders would not cause redundancies for existing staff.

The museum had to catch up with time-consuming work such as its digitisation programme.

"I have asked the museum to look at introducing a programme where we could take student interns during the summer to help."

The museum has resumed buying to enhance its collections, after a moratorium which upset would-be donors.

Museum Trust Board chairman William Randall said adjusting the balance between visitor experience and scholarship was necessary to strengthen the museum's foundation for the future.

Museum Institute Board chairwoman Rae Nield said staff carried on adding to knowledge through the periods of the $115 million building extension and Dr Vitali's move to increase the museum's popularity.

The museum was restating its aim to have collections and scholarship of international standing.

"It started as a centre for scholarship. It is wonderful to see people up there on research because a museum is about the inquisitive public and the museum is their window into the world."

Arts commentator Hamish Keith said he was delighted.

"All over the world, museums are getting the message that they are not entertainment centres."