Kia ora koutou,
Despite the shock of the Canterbury earthquake, we are very pleased that the damage to museums and collections appears to be very minor. We have been in touch with museum colleagues in the affected area today. While we have not been able to contact every museum, most that we have heard from say that their buildings are unscathed, and the larger institutions are almost unaffected – except that they will be closed for a few days and Christchurch Art Gallery has transformed into a Civil Defence centre. The same goes for collections – it seems that museums have been very good at securing their objects on display, using museum wax, fixed mounting techniques and other means which have minimised movement and damage.
Others have not faired so well. There has been some chimney damage at Okains Bay Museum and the Lyttelton Timeball Station. The Logie Collection of antiquities at Canterbury University has sustained significant damage. And our sympathies go to William Cottrell, whose Gunyah homestead near Mt Hutt was badly damaged when 6 chimneys fell through the roof, and some of the collection of colonial furniture smashed. Other historic homes and buildings have been badly damaged, some probably beyond repair, including Christchurch Repertory Theatre, Homebush and Ohinetahi homesteads. It has been reported that the Kaiapoi Museum has also suffered badly, but we have no further details.
If there is anyone wanting assistance, please do let us know. Staff at the larger museums have offered help and advice, and Museums Aotearoa can put you in touch with someone with suitable expertise.
We are extremely thankful that the earthquake happened at 4.30am when so few people were about to get in the path of falling facades and verandas in the inner city. Taken on a global scale, the people of Canterbury have got off very lightly. And it is a powerful reminder to us all to think again about our preparedness, both professionally and personally, for when the next earthquake strikes.
Phillipa and Sophie