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The opening of Tūhura Otago Community Trust Science Centre

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After four years of planning and five months of construction, Tūhura Otago Community Trust Science Centre is nearing completion, with the doors set to open to the public on Saturday 16 December at 10am.

The $2.5 million redevelopment of Otago Museum’s former Discovery World Tropical Forest was supported with $500,000 in funding from the Otago Community Trust. Now home to over 45 new hands-on science interactives and a refreshed Tropical Forest butterfly house, Tūhura will also encompass the digitally interactive Beautiful Science Gallery and Perpetual Guardian Planetarium, which were both completed in December 2015 during stage one of the project.

Otago Community Trust Chief Executive Barbara Bridger said the new development will strengthen and build on the science engagement work the Museum already undertakes across Otago and beyond.  “Tūhura Otago Community Trust Science Centre will be something very special for the people of Otago and visitors to our region”.

An icon of the Tūhura Otago Community Trust Science Centre is a 7.5 metre-high spiral slide inspired by the DNA double helix, funded by a $100,000 grant from The Lion Foundation. The slide was created by the team at Total Sheetmetals in Palmerston North, who engaged the services of Rolf Veldboom of Novare Design as their structural engineer. The slide project was approached with a huge amount of enthusiasm and passion all round.

“The helical configuration imposed some significant design challenges; getting the slide’s geometry to fit within the confines of the Museum structure whilst still meeting the NZ Playground Standards was certainly an engineering undertaking, however the end result in terms of scale; coupled with its visual complexity has created an absolutely captivating structure” says Patrick Frame, Total Sheetmetals Ltd Projects and Operations Manager.

Other key interactives include ‘The Void’ infinity room experience, a Virtual Body Table sponsored by the Marjorie Barclay Trust, a Mood Ball and a Tornado.  Approximately two-thirds of the new interactive exhibits were designed and manufactured in Germany, by world-renowned Hüttinger Interactive Exhibitions.

“It is very exciting to see the project progressing through its final stages; with the last of the Hüttinger interactives currently being installed, we can finally see what was imagined in the earlier stages of planning – it is starting to really come to life” says Otago Museum Project Manager Margot Deveraux.

The refurbished Tropical Forest butterfly environment will not only house over 1000 exotic butterflies, but also a variety of other species including tarantulas, terrapins and birds. The Tropical Forest’s newest residents include Eurycnema goliath, more commonly known as the Goliath stick insect, which grows up to 25 cm in length and lays up to 1000 eggs within a 12 month period. Visitors will be able to get up-close and personal with these gentle giants on weekends and throughout the school holidays.

“The science engagement team here at Otago Museum are looking forward to engaging with our soon-to-be visitors, in order to share knowledge, encourage curiosity and promote self-learning. We are radiating with passion and this will be reflected in the experience that our visitors can expect” says Sam Botting, Tūhura Science Centre Manager at Otago Museum.

The introduction of a new annual pass, which includes both the Science Centre and the Tropical Forest, offers locals the opportunity to visit these attractions as frequently as they desire, with the annual price set at $40 for a child and $60 for an adult.

“I am so excited about the Tūhura Otago Community Trust Science Centre which is going to take the way the Museum engages with its audience to a whole new level. Our vision for Tūhura is that it will inspire curiosity, and encourage the next generation of young New Zealanders to take an interest in the world around them” says Otago Museum Director Ian Griffin.

For more information please contact:
Charlotte Neilson
Marketing Manager, Otago Museum
(03) 479 3279