Prior to the 20th century, access to New Zealand libraries required a paid subscription. That changed when philanthropist Andrew Carnegie helped fund 18 free libraries in the country. This Neoclassical building in Hokitika opened in 1908. A small number of historical exhibits occupied some of the space. By 1998, the Hokitika Museum was the only tenant with a large collection of items conveying the heritage of the Westland region. After the building was rated poorly for earthquake safety by National Building Standards, it closed temporarily in 2016. Although the former Carnegie Building can still be toured, the museum will not move back until a full restoration is completed.