Waikato Museum to Close for Upgrades

15 May 2024

Protecting taonga, improving watertightness and increasing accessibility are at the heart of upcoming work at Waikato Museum Te Whare Taonga o Waikato.

The Museum will close from Monday 22 July to undergo significant work to fix existing issues and prevent future problems. The work has been long planned as part of Hamilton City Council’s renewals programme and will ensure Waikato Museum meets industry standards for the safe care, storage and display of objects, taonga and artworks.

The interactive centre for discovery, Exscite, will remain open.

Taking place over four and a half months, the programme renewals will provide better climate control by adding an airlock entry to the Museum’s front entrance and renewal of the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system (HVAC) throughout the building.

Along with electrical renewals, there will also be improvements to accessibility and amenities, such as upgrading the public bathrooms and flooring.

Outside, Waikato Museum’s forecourt will be upgraded to improve visitor experience and accessibility, while also improving connections to and visibility of the Museum from Victoria Street.

“This long-awaited programme will ensure Waikato Museum is up to standard and will extend its useful life as a community facility for Hamiltonians and for the tens of thousands of visitors who come here each year,” said Liz Cotton, Director Museum and Arts.

“Waikato Museum is open every day except 25 December. As this work would be quite disruptive to Museum visitors, the most efficient approach is to close our doors temporarily and just get on with it.”

The phased project to replace the Museum’s roof, which began in October 2023, will also be completed during the closure. Lightweight and robust long-run steel is being used to replace the original ceramic tiles, which are more than 30 years old. The new roof will make the building watertight, reduce maintenance costs, and ensure Waikato Museum can continue to maintain a stable and dry environment for the collections it contains.

“As the region’s home for more than 30,000 collection objects, Te Whare Taonga o Waikato is a unique space and we’re making sure it can remain a taonga for future generations too. We’re already looking forward to December and sharing the refreshed Museum including new and updated exhibitions with our manuhiri (visitors).” said Cotton.

Although its origins trace back to 1941, Waikato Museum opened in its current building on Grantham Street in 1987. The purpose-built facility was designed by architect Ivan Mercep of Auckland architecture firm JASMaD (now named Jasmax), who went on to design the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.

During the work, Exscite will remain open and the Museum’s two classrooms on the ground floor will continue to be used for delivering Education programmes and public events. Staff in the public-facing Visitor Experience team will either continue to work on site at Exscite or be temporarily redeployed to assist with other Museum projects and Hamilton City Council facilities. 

The entire Museum will be open to the public again from Friday 6 December 2024. Details of exhibition programming for summer 2024/2025 will be announced in coming months.

Press Release Waikato Museum 7 May 2024