Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Dilemma for Collection Holders

The Southland Times article, 'Churches, pubs on quake-prone list' published a month ago, shows several rural museums in buildings categorised as quake-prone:
  • Otautau Courthouse - Otautau Museum
  • Ōraka Aparima Rūnaka office - Whare Taonga
  • Te Hīkoi - Wallace Early Settlers Association Collection and Archives
  • Wyndham & Districts Historical Museum
Interestingly, three of these groups own their collection but not the building in which it is housed. The Rūnaka owns both its collection and the building so they have a bigger burden.

So what is the future for these collections? Can the owners of the buildings get seismic upgrades? Will there be any funding available?

Good museum management is all about reducing risk. So what are the risks in storing a collection in a quake-prone building? Complete destruction comes to mind. But are collections any more at risk than they have been for the last 30 years? Scientists say we should expect a major quake in the next few decades so perhaps they are.

We don't own our own building, the Courthouse, so as a volunteer collection manager, I have been wondering what we can do to protect our collection other than securing shelves to the wall (which we've done) and keeping things boxed up (which we've also done). This week we are applying for funding for more shelving to store our objects, but I will be looking into the matter of earthquake protection for our collection over the next few months. This is a serious issue and one we want to address.

We're open Wednesdays and Sundays, 2pm-4pm, and by request. Your comments are always welcome!

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