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Finishing touches . . . Acting museum director Chloe Searle is working out the finer details of the museum's new exhibitions. PHOTO: GUS PATTERSON

The front doors of the upgraded Waitaki Museum and Archive Te Whare Taoka o Waitaki will hopefully be reopened to the public by the end of the year.

Work on stage one of the upgrade project was moving into the final stages, Waitaki District Council people and culture group manager Lisa Baillie said.

That included finishing construction work and installing display cases, objects in the cases, labelling displays and adding the finishing touches, she said.

After Covid-19 delayed proceedings, Mrs Baillie hoped the museum would be open by the end of November.

“The plan right now is to open the doors to this fabulous cultural facility and to see our community enjoying the beautiful building and the treasures that it holds,” she said.

“For a project that has felt like decades in the making, all those involved couldn’t be more delighted to be inching ever closer to .. completion.”

Acting museum director Chloe Searle said the staff were “absolutely buzzing” with the prospect of visitors.

“It’s fantastic, after a period of having the museum closed to the public which has been frustrating to both the public and staff,” Miss Searle said.

“The whole reason for having a museum is to share history with people.”

The new exhibition area would be bigger, with more areas to tell the region’s stories, she said.

“It will be lighter and brighter, with more family friendly and interactive displays. It used to feel a lot like a dark cave.”

About one third of the museum’s 30,000 items were on display at any one time.

Stage two of the upgrade involves work on the collection storage, installing a lift and developing the upstairs exhibition spaces.