Eight years after Arrowtown’s Lakes District Museum director David Clarke first started the ball rolling to seismically-strengthen the historic building, the job’s finally done.

Tomorrow morning the completed restoration of the former Bank of New Zealand building, which dates back to 1875, will be officially reopened.

Clarke says a structural engineering report, commissioned in 2014 following the Canterbury earthquakes, ‘‘didn’t produce a very good picture’’, and subsequently new legislation was introduced which, essentially, gave the museum trust until 2025 to bring it up to standard.

However, a later cost assessment — which put the work around $3 million — was an ‘‘uh-oh’’ moment, Clarke says.

‘‘We got resource consent, and then Covid came along and we thought we were dead in the water — not only did we have to raise all this money, we weren’t earning anything.

‘‘We’re a trust-run museum; we have to rely on door charges to largely fund ourselves.’’

Covid, though, was also a blessing — the museum secured $2m of government funding for the project, and, later, a $1m grant from Queenstown’s council for the physical works, with a further grant from Central Lakes Trust helping with new internal displays in the two-floor building.

Physical work on what was initially a one-year build started in October, 2020.

‘‘But heritage buildings are often fraught with problems … and they struck a few,’’ Clarke says.

The completed project’s also used its fair share of old-school building techniques, something Clarke credits project managers Origin for.

‘‘They were very purist on how they wanted to see it done.’’

For example, he says, old traditional recipes using horse hair to bind the lime plaster for patching were used, as well as smearing ‘‘cow shit’’ on areas where sulphur leeched through the walls from chimneys.

‘‘Where they put that particular plaster in the old days, it stopped the sulphur coming through.

‘‘They did that — there was a big brown stain on the wall for a while, they painted over it and it hasn’t come through again.’’

Clarke says the museum staff deserve medals for the way they’ve handled the disruption, but they’re elated with the end result.

‘‘It’s been an amazing experience … everyone’s pretty excited to see it all open.’’

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