Million dollar-plus price-tag


Bringing parts of Arrowtown’s historic museum up to earthquake standards will come with a whopping $1.5 million price-tag.

The main wooden building isn’t the issue – it’s the imposing neighbouring old bank and stables, where some of its collection is housed.

A conservation plan and earthquake strengthening plan have been finished, and work is underway to determine the exact cost of the upgrade to the category 2 heritage building.

Museum boss David Clarke says it will likely cost at least $1.5m.

He’s cagey about revealing what standard the building currently meets, but admits “it’s pretty low”.

He’d like to see it raised to between 60 and 70 per cent of the building code.

“It is an issue, we know it’s an issue. We don’t want to have to shut down our museum like they did in Southland.”

The Southland Museum and Art Gallery in Invercargill shut its doors indefinitely last month due to earthquake safety concerns.

Clarke says there’s a lot of fundraising on the horizon for Lakes District Museum, as well as looking for government grants.

But there is a silver lining to the project. If the work is going to be done, Clarke is keen to see the building restored to its original glory.

It would be the “icing on the cake”, he says.

“It was a much more elaborate building in its day.”

The former BNZ bank was designed by Robert Arthur Lawson and completed in 1875.

It closed as a branch in 1916 and served several different purposes until it was gifted to the museum in 1953.