National Automobile Museum of Tasmania makes way for UTAS campus

Tasmania’s iconic automobile museum is moving from its home of the past two decades, it was revealed at Monday’s city council strategic policy and planning committee meeting.

National Automobile Museum of Tasmania board members Harry Williscroft and Graeme Pitt met with aldermen to voice their approval of the relocation to Lindsay Street.

Mr Williscroft said the museum first expressed a desire to expand about two years ago and soon learnt of the University of Tasmania’s Willis Street campus plans.

“The realisation has come to the board that we just can’t stay there and then, of course, the university have told us that they really do need that parcel of land to do what they want to do,” he said.

“Prior to them saying this we had already worked out that we couldn't survive next to them, [we would have] problems with parking, noise, and could see visitation dropping.”

Mr Pitt said the board had looked all over town for a site and when offered a piece of land over the river, near the Silo Hotel, they “jumped at it”.

“What we have, although it’s a tin shed, suits a museum environment very, very well, but life is as it is and we will accept a nice new building,” he said.

“With all the money that the council and government are spending on the [North Bank] park and bridge across the Seaport ... I think we are going to be absolutely in the right spot, I can not think of a better spot to move too.”

Mr Williscroft said it was almost certain that the museum would lose money in the first two years after the move, but the board was attempting to build that into the budget.

He said the university had also agreed to help with moving costs.

Alderman Janie Finlay asked if there were concerns about losing visitors from passing traffic but it was not deemed a major issue.

“We think the building that has been offered to us, with some modification, will be very good. It is the same footprint on the ground, including the mezzanine floor and we might even have a little more space,” Mr Williscroft said.

The museum receives about 24,000 visitors each year.

Developer Errol Stewart said the automobile museum would be one of three buildings on the site behind Officeworks and across the road from the Silo Hotel.

“We have agreed to build them a facility and we are looking at whether we can extend that,” he said.

“It hasn’t got every green light but it’s close and I think it would be a really good outcome for us and them.”

The exact details of the other buildings were not quite ready to be revealed, Mr Stewart said.