Changes of Space and Staff Open Up Opportunities

Some of our dedicated archive researchers will have noted a few changes of late, with the reading room now converted to the Bernard Chambers Gallery. Visitors have responded well to this space opening up again as a gallery and enjoying more of the collection on public display. This change has meant the reading room function needed to be relocated and has been moved into the archive storage space.

Feedback from regular users of the archives is that they’re enjoying the new space, which has better light for reading and also means they’re placed in the heart of the archive collection. It’s always exciting to see the scale and range of material in collections and I’m not surprised that researchers are enjoying a sense of intimacy with the archives. Whilst our archives are open for any visitor or researcher to access on Friday afternoons, and we do encourage researchers to come on Fridays if they can, the archives can also be accessed at other times by appointment.

What may be news to some is that Gail Pope, our long-standing Collection Assistant – Archives, has moved into the role of Curator – Social History.  We’re really pleased to have Gail in this role, filling the vacancy left when Eloise Wallace became Director at Tairawhiti Museum, Gisborne. This brings our curatorial team back up to the full complement of three curators, art, taonga Maori, and social history. Gail’s intimate knowledge of the collection and her experience in research will lead, I’m sure, to some interesting exhibitions.

We’re also delighted to have Cathy Dunn join our team, taking over Gail’s previous role of Collection Assistant – Archives. Cathy has been working as one of the Archivists at Television New Zealand, bringing a wealth of knowledge about archive management and a passion for (and skill with) textiles. I’m sure our regular visitors will enjoy working with Cathy but rest assured Gail and others are still available to step in and assist while Cathy is getting to know the collection. We’re looking forward to learning from Cathy and her experiences and believe this will be a very positive step for the museum and the collections.

Work continues on planning the relocation of the archives to the Napier library. In the meantime we’re starting to consider what work would need to be undertaken to prepare the space to function as a gallery again and, also, planning the exhibition we would display there. Being such a large gallery this provides both opportunities and challenges. It is an opportunity certainly to get more objects out on display and to provide a sense of scale but it will also require a lot more work, planning, design and build than smaller spaces. I have no doubt that the team here are up to the challenge and will provide something wonderful for our visitors when the time comes.

In the meantime it’s Easter and so we looked at the collection to see what we have with an egg theme and came up with these interesting little items. They are described as magician’s eggs (although only one is egg shaped) but we know nothing about how they would have been used. If there are any budding or experienced magicians out there who know the trick these would have been used for we would love to hear from you.

Magician’s eggs from Len Willoughby’s magic box

Magician’s eggs from Len Willoughby’s magic box



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