Te Awamutu’s Museum is back, but with a new purpose and a new name.

The museum was forced to close overnight last October following a seismic assessment which showed the building was vulnerable in an earthquake. Since then, staff have been ensuring the security of artefacts while planning a new, public space.

They have also continued to deliver education services, providing learning sessions to around 370 students from five schools since the closure. The education programme is part of the museum’s prestigious three-year contract with the Ministry of Education.

Museum director Anne Blyth said the new space at the building leased by Council in Rickit Road could not technically be called a museum.

“Museums must meet really stringent standards in terms of climate control, pest management and security and we simply can’t meet those standards in the Ricket Road space. But that doesn’t mean we can’t offer something else really valuable to the community, so that’s what we’ll be doing.”

On that basis, the museum is now open as the Te Awamutu Museum Education and Research Centre. Staff will focus on providing an education-centred service and will be making the space as interactive as possible with the spotlight firmly on Waipā’s rich history.

There will also be an emphasis on research with space provided so people can access the museum’s extensive archive of paper, photograph and digital documents. The popular Tui & Tama Kids Club, with more than 500 members, may also use the space as a base for some activities.

“There is still going to be plenty to do and, it’s certainly not like the collection has disappeared,” Blyth said. “We’ve already got more than 18,000 items available online and that’s a fabulous resource for people to use. You can lose yourself for hours online, browsing the collection.”

Opening hours at the Te Awamutu Museum Education and Research Centre will be 10am – 4pm Monday to Friday and 10am – 2pm on Saturday and public holidays. The Centre will be closed on Sunday.

Museum director Anne Blyth (left) and collection manager Sarah Dawe preparing the Te Awamutu Museum Education and Research Centre for Tui & Tama’s Eco Expo opening 5th March 2023.

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