Action-packed year at the museum

2015 was an action packed year for MTG Hawke’s Bay Museum and this week it seems natural to reflect on the year and what was achieved.

We’ve presented a number of exhibitions, some of the highlights being: From the Uttermost Ends of the Earth: Hawke’s Bay at War 1914-1918; Tēnēi Tonu (our new Māori gallery); Artists Proof (prints by the popular Dick Frizzell); and Talanoa (contemporary installations by Pacific artist John Vea). MTG won a museum industry award for the exhibition Dr Felkin and the Forerunners.

The basement annex space has been converted into a theatre to show the Survivors’ Stories film, the Reading Room was reclaimed as a gallery space and three of the four stairwell cases were opened.

One of the more noticeable ‘displays’ has been the installation of Pin Wall on the exterior of the building. This work, by artists Sara Hughes and Gregor Kregar, has proven very popular with locals and visitors alike.

We hope you enjoyed our two open days which had over 1,000 visitors each time.

We were honoured to be on the schedules for two official visits during the year. One by the Governor General of New Zealand, Jerry Mateparae with his wife Raewynn, and the second by American Ambassador Mark Gilbert with his wife Nancy, daughter Liz and family friend Michelle.

Another exciting achievement for staff this year was the increased success of the Film Festival, making it a sustainable option for the future.

Of course ‘behind the scenes’ there was a lot going on too.

The collection store in the basement has been filled (although there are plans afoot to fit more in) and we’re working on plans regarding storage for the rest of the collection.

We’ve worked closely with the Art Deco Trust to develop a strong working relationship, including offering guided tours though our 1931 Hawke’s Bay Earthquake gallery, and we mourned alongside them the passing of Robert MacGregor, who was such a strong figure in the promotion and preservation of Art Deco.

One of our very talented staff members, Ken Miles, made Santa’s sleigh for the Christmas parade in conjunction with Mike Hyde from the Napier City Council Depot.

Two of our staff made significant career changes with Eloise Wallace now Director at Tairawhiti Museum in Gisborne and Lucy Hammonds Curator at Dunedin Public Art Gallery. We had a museum baby born, William Wilson, and welcomed our new curator, Jessica Mio.

Possibly one of the most successful things done during the year was moving the counter in the front foyer – sometimes simple things make the biggest impact – and we’ve received numerous positive comments about this. Another simple yet positive change has been putting an artwork in the front foyer.

Earlier in the week , the Veronica Bell was removed from the earthquake exhibition in preparation for its traditional part in the New Year celebrations.


Bell from the HMS Veronica, Collection of Hawke’s Bay Museums Trust, Ruawharo Tā-ū-rangi, 69643

This was originally the bell of the HMS Veronica, a ship that had just tied up in Napier’s inner harbour when the 1931 earthquake hit.

It was presented to the city in 1937 as a memento of the assistance given by the ship’s officers and crew in rescuing those trapped in the rubble, and if you were at Marine Parade for New Year’s you would have the bell ringing just before midnight to herald in 2016.

We wish everyone a safe and happy New Year and hope to see you at the museum in 2016.


Laura Vodanovich director of the Museum Theatre Gallery (MTG) Hawke’s Bay.

Published in Hawke’s Bay Today Saturday 2 January 2016.


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