9 March 2012

Quake-hit Cultural Collections receive Boost

The Air Force Museum in Wigram will be available for the restoration, storage and rehabilitation of heritage and cultural collections displaced by the Canterbury earthquakes thanks to funding from the Christchurch Earthquake Appeal Trust and government, Arts Culture and Heritage Minister Christopher Finlayson announced today.

The funding of $1.5 million from the Christchurch Earthquake Appeal Trust and up to $2 million from government will give community groups more certainty in storing and rehabilitating collections.

Earthquake Appeal Trustee Dr Rod Carr, said Canterbury’s displaced cultural institutions will be able to use the facilities free of charge at the Air Force Museum, due to open by November, for up to three years. Storage will be available for a further three years.

“Most of the cultural sector has been impacted by the earthquakes,” Dr Carr said. “Dozens of cultural collections are at-risk or have been damaged and many community organisations which manage valuable heritage collections have been displaced.”

Mr Finlayson, said the government supported the Air Force Museum’s initiative to provide safe and secure premises for the region’s collections, some of which are nationally and internationally important.

“This project will be one of the first to get underway in Canterbury, so it will benefit the region’s economy while supporting the re-establishment of Canterbury’s tourism-related heritage activities,” he said.

Dr Carr noted that the project is a collaborative effort between government and the museum sector.

“Canterbury’s earthquake damaged and at-risk collections can be securely stored and repaired. It also provides an opportunity for the cultural sector to work together on longer term recovery options,” Dr Carr said.

The centre will enable recovery work such as conservation and cataloguing with the help of expertise from Te Papa National Services in an appropriate climate controlled, secure environment.

Already 20 organisations such as Lyttelton and Sumner museums have indicated an interest in participating in the project. Project manager and Air Force Museum Director Therese Angelo is encouraging other community groups  to contact her as soon as possible to discuss their needs.

“This is an exciting project for the Canterbury region and for the Air Force Museum and is a continuation of the work already happening in salvaging and storing cultural and heritage collections from around Christchurch,” she said.

“While it does mean putting our own needs on hold for a few years, we are committed to assisting other organisations who have not come through these disastrous events as well as we have. There is still a little more funding to find but with these grants from the government and the Christchurch Earthquake Appeal Trust the project can progress from concept to reality.”