Coordinated by Palmerston North City Council's heritage team, the free open days are this weekend, 4 and 5 November, and kick off Local History Week. The open days are a celebration of the buildings' history and community.
PNCC Arts Coordinator Gillian Tasker says the heritage open days give the public the opportunity to talk to those who care for the buildings and hear interesting stories, and about upcoming events and ways to support the venues.
"It's a chance for the cultural and community venues to throw open their doors to the public to see hidden areas that are not normally accessible – and all for free."
The Heritage Open Days are the brainchild of PNCC Multicultural Services Officer Jeremie Corroenne. He organised similar events in his native Annecy, in France.
"Heritage Open Days are a massive success in France and the idea has spread to England and Europe," he says. "They are one of England's biggest and most popular voluntary cultural events, attracting some 800,000 people every year."
The following are details of some of the buildings taking part in the open days.
- The Central Library will highlight hidden, contemporary and unusual aspects of the building, with a fascinating history stretching back 90 years.
- Square Edge staff will conduct tours of spaces not normally accessible to the public in the former city council building, such as the basement and vault.
- Palmerston North City Councillors will conduct tours of the Council Chamber, Linkspan, Missoula Room, Guiyang Lounge and the Mayor's office. Visitors will also get to see the portrait gallery of past mayors.
- Centrepoint Theatre General Manager Kate Louise Elliott will guide visitors through Palmerston North's professional theatre in a fun and playful tour.
- Bruce Warwick, who managed the Globe Theatre for 10 years, will tell stories of the home of Palmerston North community theatre.
- Te Manawa's Art Gallery will run tours of its collection storeroom, allowing visitors to get up close and personal with paintings and sculptures from the 1960s and 1970s.
- Te Manawa Museum staff will bring items out the storeroom to showcase the décor and fashions of the swinging sixties. Think mini dresses, the hippy-dippy look and Scandinavian modern furniture.
- Afternoon tea will be available to purchase at Caccia Birch House, or visitors can bring a picnic and listen to tui and kererū.
- The Pasifika Community Centre (previously Westbrook Community Centre) will showcase the diversity of cultural heritage within the city's Pasifika community.
The other participating venues are the Regent on Broadway and all-ages music hub The Stomach.
Local History Week brochures are available on the Palmerston North City Library website or hard copies at the Central Library. Bookings are required for some tours.