I visited The Lyttelton Torpedo Boat Museum at Magazine Bay for the first time recently. It’s definitely worth the short trek over the hill from the Naval Point Yacht Club to see the restored sections of the 1885 boat and engine, and the Powder Magazine Building (NZHPT CAT 1), and to find out all about the fascinating history of the torpedo boats and the ’Russian Scare’. The story has been well researched and clearly presented, and the background to the development of the museum itself is very interesting. The museum is well signposted from the tunnel end at Lyttelton.
Increasingly visitors expect a good, well presented story, and a focused experience. Remoteness or specialisation can be an attraction. Karamea Museum is at end of the road at the top of the West Coast of the South Island – although some might say they are isolated or remote, this can be turned into a real advantage as more people are looking for the unique heartland culture of New Zealand, and museums can be at the centre of this discovery.
Many smaller museums are finding smart ways to maximise their presence and the visitor experience. Offering additional services in the museum encourages more people to visit.
Waikawa Museum volunteers (in the Catlins in Southland) provide tourist information, booking services, and internet access. Sharing a building with a library or information centre can also work well. Many southern museums are repositioning themselves as an essential part of the visitor and community experience.
They are focusing on what is unique about their region. One of these is Methven Heritage Centre. On 28 May they staged a Gala Opening and Art Auction to support Stage Two of their development to be a cultural hub for the area.
In March I visited Stewart Island’s Rakiura Museum where they are considering a major redevelopment plan that will make the museum central to the way Rakiura tells its history to the increasing numbers of visitors visiting the island. Established in 1959 and refurbished in 1987, the present building has challenges for the care and display of the collections. The committee are planning the best solution for its future.
Maniototo Settlers Museum in Naseby, in the heart of the Maniototo, is also looking at refreshing its museum displays, exploring the collections, and considering ways to reconnect with the community. Working with Central Stories Museum and Art Gallery in Alexandra, smaller museums in the area recently published a group brochure which promotes cultural tourism in the area, partly funded by National Services Te Paerangi (NSTP).
Okains Bay Colonial and Māori Museum on the far side of Banks Peninsula is also making progress with strategic planning, and making use of digital technology cataloguing their extensive collections and launching a new website.
Waikaia (Switzers) Museum is situated at the head of a valley that goes inland from Riversdale in Southland, and is best known for the bottle house. They recently applied for a NSTP Helping Hands Grant to purchase additional materials to house their documents and photographs, and have also been successful in their application for a NSTP Expert Knowledge Exchange to assist in the design of the interior of the museum. Museum volunteers are wisely cataloguing and repackaging their collections before they start on a building redevelopment.
Johanna Massey, the Roving Museum Officer in Southland, is funded via the Southland Regional Heritage Committee and Community Trust of Southland. Jo has been working with volunteers on-site for two months on the floor-plan and collections in preparation for this. This visit follows on from four months Jo spent with volunteers on-site in 2008 inventorying and assessing collections so that storage space and display potential would be considered throughout the project.
NSTP is there to support museum projects with resources, training, and advice. Museums Development Officers are available for on-site visits and will help you access information, contacts and training. Don’t forget about our new programme the Expert Knowledge Exchange that can bring an expert to your museum for up to a week to work with you on a specific aspect of your museum work.
Te Papa also offers museums the opportunity to have brochures on display for visitors to Te Papa who might be heading your way soon! Contact us to find out more about this. The internet is one great way that museums in more remote areas can stay connected and inform visitors about what they offer. Being on the NZMuseums website is another free way of developing your profile and letting people know what’s in your museum, who and where you are.
Image 1: Lyttelton Torpedo Boat Museum
Image 2: Lyttelton Torpedo Boat Museum
Image 3: Karamea Museum
Image 4: Waikawa Museum
Image 5: Rakiura Museum
Image 6: Maniototo Settlers Museum
Image 7: Okains Bay Colonial and Māori Museum
Image 8: Waikaia Museum
Contact Judith by email firstname.lastname@example.org or ph: 029 601 0410