It was an overcast Monday morning in August when a bunch of eleven children from Carlyle Kindergarten excitedly emptied from their taxi van to see the building of the new Museum, a place they would be visiting when they got to school next year.
Derek, in his high visibility jacket, was the Gemco building site representative and our tour guide. He showed the children the different parts of the building from the safety of the perimeter.
Outside the Louis Hay wing of the building I showed the group some old photographs of the building taken soon after it was built in 1937. We found out about the changes being made to bring back the Louis Hay part of the building to its original design. Next we looked into the distance at the old Council Chambers, now in its new site behind Te Pania hotel. The building looks as if it had never been elsewhere. Derek told us how that building had been sawn in half and moved in the middle of the night. As we moved along Herschell Street Derek talked about having to strengthen one of the walls so that an earthquake would not make it fall down, something that they hadn’t expected to have to do.
We walked around the corner to where the main entrance to the Museum would be and saw interested things like scaffolding, rubbish chutes, and temporary staircases. The workers were stopping for morning tea so suddenly there were lots of people descending the stairs. Derek said there were at least one hundred people working on the site. He said the building was costing $18 million dollars and would be ready in about a year, by which time many of the children in the group would be at school. I said I would see them if they came to see the new Museum and showed them where the new Education classrooms were.
It was time for the maxi taxi to pick up everyone, thank Derek and wave goodbye. I think some little ones would sleep soundly that night dreaming of their visit to the new Museum!