New look displays on the way for Warkworth Museum

It’s all change at Warkworth Museum, with revamped rooms, new look displays and behind the scenes systems upgrades all on the way.

Work has already started in the Wilson Room, just beyond the museum entrance, where a new ceiling is being built, the cobbler shop exhibit has been dismantled and new display cabinets and information panels are being installed.

Manager Victoria Joule says this is the first phase in a series of improvements that have come about following the museum’s participation in the Te Papa Expert Knowledge Exchange programme last year.

“We had Jamie Bell, the director of the National Cricket Museum in Wellington, visit for three days, essentially to review the museum and give us some guidance on how we can update our displays,” she says. “Based on his feedback, we are making a number of changes. We’re developing a strategic plan and engaging with all the volunteers on where we want to take the museum in the next five years.”

With display upgrades the main focus, volunteers are streamlining the museum layout, beginning with showcasing the region’s early history in the Wilson Room by bringing together Maori, boatbuilding, kauri wood and kauri gum artefacts. The second phase will be a revamp of the adjacent Tudor Collins Room to highlight the history of the wider district.

As well as new display cases, improvements will include new insulation, air conditioning, a pale grey colour scheme, and information panels designed and funded by Te Papa.

The museum has also recently received a $5000 grant from Pub Charities to upgrade its computer network system and centralise all its records on one database.

Although the improvements will be covered by general fundraising, grants and volunteer labour, the museum is facing a much larger financial headache outside in its grounds. A recent landslip below a shed will need a new retaining wall and resource consents, something that could cost tens of thousands of dollars.

Victoria Joule says she and the museum team are looking into ways to raise the necessary funds.

“That’s going to be an interesting one,” she says. “A significant amount of money will be needed to raise money to fix that. And a lot of heritage grants are based around renovating heritage buildings, not the grounds outside.”