Controversy has plagued the Ashburton Art Gallery and Heritage Centre, but visitors who walked through the new building yesterday did not have a bad word to say about it.
The soon-to-be-completed centre was opened to the public for one day, from 10am until 3pm. Over 1100 people flocked to the centre, and there were even some queueing up at the front door before it opened.
“I think it will be a wonderful facility for showing art,” said Belinda McKenzie of Geraldine, who was visiting both a friend and the centre for the day.
“I love it, it’s just amazing, it’s really roomy,” said 13-year-old Zoe Smith from Ashburton.
“I like how it’s nice and spacious, I think it’s really cool,” said her friend Keira Largue of Ashburton, also aged 13.
“It will be the envy of many towns in New Zealand,” said an engineer from Christchurch, John Sinclair, who was in Ashburton to visit friends and see the centre.
Inside the Box fundraiser Kevin Soster said he had only heard positive things about the centre since the doors opened for the day. And people had generously donated to the Inside the Box campaign, for fixtures and fittings, with many 10, 20 and even 50 dollar bills sitting conspicuously in plastic donation boxes both upstairs and downstairs, expected to total up to $2000.
Mr Soster said from the several art gallery rooms, all located on the building’s top floor, a couple had already been sold for naming rights, while the rest remained and could have their rights purchased for from $10,000 to $35,000. All the museum rooms, on the ground floor, also remained.
“Despite all the controversy there’s been with this, it just adds another dimension to living in this district,” Mr Soster said of the new centre.
– Susan Sandys