Canterbury Museum

Museum Reopening Speech: Michael McEvedy, Chairperson Canterbury Museum Trust Board

Posted: 1 September 2011

Distinguished Guests, Mayor and Mayoress, Civic Leaders, fellow Board Members: Good evening, and thank you for joining us on this very special occasion.

Well, what a year it has been for Christchurch since we were woken in the early hours on the fourth of September 2010. In the aftermath of that event I don’t think anyone could have anticipated the devastation and heartbreak that was still in store for our beloved city and province.

Amongst the rubble and tragedy though, there have emerged some wonderful stories of community cooperation, innovation, and a very Cantabrian determination to stay positive and get on with things. That drive has been clearly evident amongst the staff of the Museum who, while dealing with their own personal difficulties, showed a clear commitment to getting back into the building and reopening as soon as possible for the people of Canterbury.

Deserving of particular mention is our Director, Anthony Wright; Kelvin Nolly, Protective Services Manager and his team; the senior management team;  and Stephen Pennruscoe and the Museum’s exhibitions team, who have opened and put right every case in this Museum more than once, while still managing to install and present the wonderful new exhibitions you see here tonight. The whole staff have laboured mightily over the crucial period over the last few weeks leading up to this reopening event.
We’d also like to thank the many officers from CERA, Christchurch City Council, Holmes Consulting, Fletchers, Goldfields, Warren & Mahoney, Heritage Management Services and Cosgroves - together with a whole host of other people far too long to mention by name who have worked to facilitate the reopening of the Museum.

I feel a great sense of relief, and pride, that the Museum has come through the events of the last year as well as it has. Earthquake strengthening works done in the early nineties have obviously proved their worth. On the collections side of things, the careful work and high standards of the staff here have been significant in minimising the loss to our collections. There are around 12,000 objects on public display in the Museum, and only 188 were damaged as a result of the earthquakes.

As well as celebrating the Museum’s reopening, we are also tonight marking the opening of two special photographic exhibitions. Brian Brake: Lens on the World showcases 165 superb photographic reproductions of Brian Brake’s work from Te Papa’s permanent collection. It is the first comprehensive retrospective exhibition of this notable photographer’s work, spanning his forty-year career. This exhibition was developed by the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa who we thank for generously waiving fees, and is presented here at Canterbury Museum in partnership with the Christchurch Art Gallery and with proud support from The Press.

The other exhibition we are opening tonight is Hard on the Heels. This is a collection of great All Blacks moments captured by Peter Bush over a 60-year period. Hard on the Heels is drawn from Peter's vast library of photographs and features some of his personal favourites, alongside humorous, contentious and candid behind-the-scenes shots, many of which I’m sure you will recognise. Hard on the Heels was developed by Exhibition Services Tours and is proudly sponsored by Canon New Zealand.

Let me thank you all once again. I hope you will be as proud as we are that the Museum is open again. Come back with your friends and family and celebrate the fact that although we have all lost so much, we still have a great deal of our heritage safe and protected here at Canterbury Museum.

I am delighted to now invite Mayor Bob Parker, who is also a Museum Trust Board member and a great supporter, to speak and declare the Museum officially open once more.