Wednesday, May 22, 2024
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Lakes District Museum Restored & Revitalised.

A $3.5 million dollar refurbishing and strengthening project has revitalised the historic Lakes District Museum in Arrowtown ensuring its ongoing role as a prominent Whakatipu heritage building.

The original bank and stables buildings were relaunched late last year after undergoing extensive  work due to earthquake risk.

Director David Clarke says funding the project was challenging but they sourced $2million from the Government’s  Provincial Development Unit set up during the Covid-19 pandemic,  $1million from the Queenstown Lakes District Council and $420,000 from the Central Lakes Trust with the museum contributing over $250,000 itself.

He says the work was extensive both inside and out.

“ We wanted the upgrade to return the once grand bank building back to its original look with its decorative parapets and six chimneys. It was designed by eminent architect RA Lawson in 1875 but had been altered when the museum took it over in 1953.”

“ The building’s walls had to be core drilled, steel rods inserted and grout pumped in for strength. A steel frame largely hidden was inserted to hold up the roof. The central floors were replaced, the ceiling lifted, a lift inserted to provide disabled access and all the walls replastered using traditional methods.”

A specialist team of trades and traditional workers came together to work on the project – some from overseas.

“ The trades people were overseen by local heritage architects and it was fascinating to observe the work,” says David. “The team had to drill eight metres down through the walls with great accuracy, while the plasterers had to remove the plastic paint and re-apply limewash paints to allow the walls to breathe. This resulted in residue sulphur from the old chimneys leaching out through the walls which was fixed by smearing the walls with a traditional recipe of liquid cow dung. We also found some traditional lead welders in France who worked on  cathedrals in Europe to assist us and the below ground building levels were waterproofed with pitch that was boiled up in a giant cauldron which is  a method used for centuries.”

David says unveiling the renovations and innovative new displays has been rewarding and he paid tribute to the specialist museum design team.

“We have recreated an ice and schist tunnel to talk about glaciation and land formation and the Māori creation story. Our Māori displays have been upgraded with beautiful taonga found in the Whakatipu on back loan from Otago and Southland museums. We have refurbished the Chinese mining story, gold and banking, medicine, music, law and order and domestic displays and added contemporary history on tourism development.”