Museum opens ‘conversations’  

Ōtorohanga Museum curator Nicky Deeley, left, at the exhibition preview with Ōtorohanga mayor Max Baxter and chief executive Tanya Winter. 

An interactive display of photographs, documents and video clips hosted by Ōtorohanga Museum over the past few days is part of a wider move by the facility to open its archives and engage more effectively with the community.

‘Mapping Our Town’ ran from February 24 to March 2 at the museum’s neighbouring Girl Guide Hall in Kakamutu Rd.  It comprised a large selection of photographs, aerial images and documents relating to the town, sourced from the museum’s archives.  The earliest images on the display were from the 1880s.

It was the first in a planned series of five displays this year aimed at inviting people to contribute information linked to the images and enhance the museum’s knowledge base.  The initiative has the support of the Ōtorohanga District Council.

Ōtorohanga Museum curator Nicky Deeley said the images on show were high quality copies that formed part of a ‘huge resource’ held by the museum.

“We’ve been working on organising our archives,” she explained, “and while we have all these photographs, we don’t necessarily have the information that relates to them.  This interactive exercise is about filling in those gaps, inviting the wider community to contribute what they can in terms of the information and stories linked to these items.   Much of what we have in our archives has been collected over the years by the town’s well-known historian, Nan Owen.”

Nicky said the museum wants to “open up these archives, transforming it into a resource for the people. This is the start of that process”.

A preview evening on February 23 brought guests together at the guide hall, including Ōtorohanga District Mayor Max Baxter, councillors, iwi and museum staff.  The display also featured a series of short films played on a loop and focusing on specific points of regional interest.

“For the time being, we want to source more photographs and as much information as possible about the ones we have,” she said. “We want to open conversations with the community, invite them to contribute to something which will be important for all of us.”

The next exhibition will focus on Anzac Day and will see museum staff work closely with the RSA.

“We have a huge untapped resource here in Ōtorohanga.  It is vital that we get the correct information to match these images.”

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