What do you do with an overstocked museum?
The New Zealand Fieldays Society is grappling with precisely that issue with its Clydesdale Museum collection at Mystery Creek.
Generous donations over the years have left the museum with a wide range of items – and a significant number of double ups.
Fieldays chief Peter Nation wants to give the old items now mostly in storage a new lease on life – by returning them, or finding new owners.
An advert in last week’s News alerted readers to the plan.
“I think some people thought we might be decimating the museum – but that’s far from the case,” Mr Nation said.
“We just want to find new homes for items which would otherwise be out their years in storage.”
Items range from a number of old tractors, farming equipment, parts and engines that have filled up the Heritage Village in Mystery Creek.
The village started coming together during the 70s to house some of its donations and put them on display.
The Heritage Village grew out of historical buildings that no longer had a purpose, such as the old Ngatea Church, Kihikihi Jail, Whitehall School and Waikato Hospital.
The Bledisloe building (the old Hamilton Winter Show building) was purchased for $1 from Hamilton City Council in the 1970s and used to house many pieces of the collection.
The village used to be open for tours and visitors on a regular basis but due to budget restraints it is only operating during private functions and big public events, such as Fieldays.
But over the years the donations came in thick and fast and now the society is looking to scale down its collection.
They are looking to return the items firstly to their original owners, but even that is a bit of a struggle.
The society have been documenting pieces since 1978 but a number of donations pre-date that.
But even the documented items are also being a struggle to locate their owners as many were donated over 20 years ago and trying to find some of the original owners let alone connect the documentation to the right donation has been somewhat of a nightmare for staff.
That’s why the Fieldays Society is putting the message out to anybody who has donated a piece or family member who has donated something in the past and wants it returned.
To do so they must show some proof of previous ownership by August 31.
But for those pieces left unclaimed Mr Nation says that they will do their best to donate them to museums who will look to bring these parts of history back to life.
Those pieces that cannot be donated will be auctioned with the hope of collectors looking to give these pieces a new lease on life.
“We could ship some of this stuff off to the scrap metal yard and get a few dollars for it but none of us want that,” he said.
“These pieces just need a new lease on life and we know that there will be people out there happy to do it.”
Any money made from the auction will be put back into the the Heritage Village as well as other educational purposes the society provides.