(re)stored

“This piece of museum and art gallery furniture seems to have been with us forever”.

These were the words of one of our longest serving staff members. The Museum ticket box was used long before the Century Theatre was built in 1977 and is thought to have been built by Leo Bestall the founding director (1936 – 1959) for use at concerts performed in the Louis Hay Bestall and Malden galleries.

Considering the history of this piece of furniture within our organisation we had a strong case for its restoration and a desire that a piece that’s been an integral part of everyday operations be taken forward with us into the new building.

On assessing the ticket box before I began work it was clear it had been subject to running repairs over the years, to the base especially. Some of these were not compatible with good furniture repair practice. I made a decision early on that the base would need to be completely replaced with a replica of the original.

The original base, replicated as part of the restoration process

The replica base was built using recycled Kauri. The joints at the base were dowelled and a biscuit jointer was placed either side of the dowels to help strengthen the joint against side loadings.

The ticket box itself was completely dismantled into its component parts and the old finish removed. The unit was held together by an assortment of large screws which were visible. These screw holes were counter bored so that when the unit was reassembled the screw fixings could be covered by matching Kauri plugs which were then sanded flush with the surface giving a more professional appearance and finish.

The unit was reassembled plugged and finish sanded down to 240 grit. The ticket box was then attached to the new base, this time fixing invisibly from the inside as opposed to the original which was screwed from the outside.

The restored ticket box ready for staining

The finished unit was then stained and coated in a two pack Urethane finish which is very durable. This newer Urethane two pack fits very well with the museums policy of only using products that do not have any harmful off-gassing risks that might cause harm to our collection items.  This product has no formaldehyde, unlike its predecessors and as such, once the initial cure period has elapsed, presents no long term danger from off-gassing.

The finished unit is still recognisable as the piece it always was, with some of its time-infused character purposely left as a reminder of the many years’ service it has already given to the institution.

It now stands ready to give many years’ service to the new Museum.

Ken Miles
Exhibition Construction & Maintenance
November 2012

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one of much excitement

At the beginning of June, HBMAG Team Leader’s had a walkthrough of the museum site with the opportunity to look at the progress of the redevelopment.  The last time we visited was in December 2012 when the new wing was at basement level.  This part of the building has progressed significantly – the basement, ground floor and first floors are now in place, with the first floor roof due to be completed shortly.

The HBMAG new wing and main entrance

It was a weird feeling wandering around the building, but one of much excitement.  Some spaces the Bestall Gallery and Century Foyer were familiar, although lacking their usual life.  I remembered back to when we were open, abuzz with visitors and the galleries full of the collections we know so well.  Planning is already well under way for the collection and visitors to return, but for the first time I got a real sense of what the spaces were going to be like.

The Bestall Gallery undergoing earthquake strengthening

In the new wing’s main foyer and entrance on the ground floor I could now imagine staff standing at the reception desk, facing toward Tennyson Street welcoming visitors to the building.  As I stood where the desk would be, I thought to myself that it may be challenge to remain focused with this fabulous new vista looking out towards the Soundshell, the Dome, and glimpses of Hawke Bay’s iridescent blue water beyond.

Views from the first floor balcony gallery

We visited the new education suite, located just off the foyer. I tried hard to imagine the walls that would contain the two teaching spaces.  Students visiting the Museum will have some of the best spaces in the new building with full height windows framing beautiful views on to Marine Parade. I could hear the chatter of children’s voices as they excitedly sat waiting for their teachers and for lessons to begin.

I couldn’t wait to see the first floor galleries.  We had to go outside the building footprint and ascend on steps as the internal stairwells were not yet competed. I carefully held the hand rail and make my way up to the floor above.  What occurred to me when I stood on the Balcony Gallery was what a fabulous space this was going to be for our visitors.  I walked into the two large galleries on this floor imagining the fine art collection surrounding me; visitors wandering around the space delighting in the paintings displayed on the walls.

 Opus architect Richard Daniels points out the new vista on to Marine Parade

As I walked out of the main galleries I headed towards the stairwell on the Marine Parade side of the building.  The stairwells will be one of the most striking features of the new building – large cases, nine by three metres will span the height of the three floors and will be dedicated to displaying the HBMT’s collection.  For some reason I imagined a large, glorious kimono being hung in front of me in the top section of the case. As I approached the balcony overlooking the case, the lighting drew my eyes to the treasures below, enticing me to go down the stairwells and explore further.

 The stairwell cases – looking up from the basement floor

We made our way downstairs to where the new 1931 Hawke’s Bay Earthquake exhibition will be located – it was very dark with only a string of light bulbs draped across the space. We asked the builders to turn the lights on; once they did the gallery felt bigger than it did on the plans.  Some of the team got out their measuring tapes to check dimensions now we could get a feel for this space. It felt contained and the ceilings are quite low.  This was going to be a challenging  space to work with – not unlike the subject matter destined for this gallery, however I know we would persevere and that visitors that see this exhibition will take away their own understanding of the significance of this event to Hawke’s Bay.

The earthquake exhibition space

We continued our tour behind the scenes, past ceilings interlaced with large aluminium air conditioning vents, electrical and data wires trailing from place to place looking for their end outlet, offices walls in varying stages of completion.  I imagine what it will be like as staff populate these spaces once again, busily getting on with their tasks – tables with collection objects being readied for display; then onto the Collection store with rows of treasures in neatly allocated shelving patiently waiting for their turn; other staff work at desks, papers piled high, coloured folders and to-do lists on whiteboards.  It’s easy to imagine that when I follow this route to my new office on the Century Theatre mezzanine floor the enticing smell of coffee and fresh baking in our new café will be hard to resist.

The Design Team studio and office space

There is so much to do before I will make it up to that new office, many more months of planning but, it is exciting dreaming about the day the museum will be open again.  I can’t wait to see all the galleries come to life and the collection once again taking centre stage.  I am looking forward to welcoming back our visitors and being extremely proud of our fabulous new building and all the new stories we will have to share.

Pam Joyce
Marketing Team Leader
July 2012