Peter Jackson’s The Great War Exhibition in Wellington’s Pukeahu National War Memorial Park is partially a victim of its own success and is now going to begin charging adult visitors.
On Trip Advisor the Exhibition is the second most popular attraction in Wellington after Te Papa. However, it was set up with no ongoing operational funding and the pressure to deliver day-to-day, as well as develop the exhibition, is proving costly.
The Chair of the Trust that runs the exhibition, Fran Wilde, said today that the business model which was adopted when the exhibition opened ten months ago was not financially sustainable.
“Visitor numbers have been very high – well over 180,000 since opening in April 2015. But running the Exhibition is resource intensive, with our guided tours proving very popular. This success is putting pressure on slim resources, with high need for crowd management, security and cleaning services, as well as the customer service staff.
“In addition, we are planning other improvements and new features for the Exhibition over the next two years. Some but not all of the latter will be funded by charitable grants we have received. In particular we hope that in the middle of this year we can open our exciting Trench Experience, providing a realistic, immersive sensory experience. We anticipate that this will be a major attraction.
“All this requires more money. We have begun an active programme to attract more sponsorship and invite any local or national businesses interested in supporting this unique exhibition to get in touch with us,” Ms Wilde said. “Although we know some will be disappointed at the introduction of an entry charge, it will help support the viability of the Exhibition and ensure we can continue to offer a positive visitor experience, while maintaining a firm base for future development”.
The adult charge of $15 will be introduced from March 1. There will be no charge for children aged 16 years and under. Any adult buying a ticket will be eligible to return for a free visit within twelve months if accompanied by one paying visitor. School tour groups remain the same - $2 per child.
“Guided tours are proving very popular and bring the Exhibition to life”, Ms Wilde said. “We have decided not to increase the price of the tours, which remain at $10 for an adult and $5 for a child, but the child age has been raised from 11 to 16 years”.
The Exhibition is run by the National Military Heritage Charitable Trust. Capital funding was provided initially by the Crown (through Ministry for Culture and Heritage) and Wellington City Council, with ANZ coming in as the Principal Partner.
Operating funding includes a Crown contribution, including for rental, with further contributions from sponsors and donors as well as revenue from guided tours and retail activities. Future development is being supported through grants from Lottery Grants Board and Pub Charity.
The Great War Exhibition, designed by Sir Peter Jackson, is considered unique in profiling the history of the four years of World War One from the perspective of a number of different countries, while highlighting the special role of New Zealanders in this pivotal time in history. It considers the impact of all forces - navy, army and air force. The world class Exhibition has attracted visitors from all over New Zealand and overseas. Over the weekend of the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, the highest ever numbers were recorded for a single weekend.
Further information about The Great War Exhibition, including the latest news and upcoming events can be found on our website http://www.greatwarexhibition.nz/
Updated on 1st June 2016