Sunday, 28 September 2008

What's New at the Museum

The exhibition manager, Graham Barkman, has been busy gathering items for the subject of the next display - Holt Park. Holt Park is a natural amphitheatre, carved out by the Otautau Stream. Its natural grandstand hillside provided an impressive backdrop to a lot of big events that have taken place there over the years. For example, Holt Park hosted the A&P Show and the Labour Day Sports competitions. Thousands of people would turn up for these events from miles around. There used to be a swimming pool there which was an after school favourite of many young people. No heating - just plain water and lots of fun.

So Graham has been collecting things from the public - photos, trophies, remembrances from the past and preparing to put them on display for next weekend.

Meanwhile, I've had the flu and that has slowed me down quite a bit. But we've managed to put together a calendar as a fundraiser. Last year, our first calendar featured photos of the early 1900s - and it turned out to be a good source of funding for us. We didn't simply want to raise money but we wanted to bring part of Otautau history into people's homes. So the calendars are one way that the museum is trying to break down its own walls and provide access to the images we preserve.

The 2008 calendar featured the Courthouse because this is its centennial year. It was purpose-built in 1908 to be a courthouse and nothing else. And funnily enough, after about 70 or 80 years when the Justice Department had no use for it, it became a library, an office, a meeting place, an exhibition space, a yoga room, a concert hall, and a museum. So it's an interesting reminder of what buildings and industries are still around in Otautau, and which are not; which of them have changed with the times and which have not.

For the 2009 calendar, we've chosen the topic of homesteads. Some of the homesteads featured are still around while others have long since been torn down. So the calendars provide a kind of snapshot of a town that continues to change.

Your comments are always welcome!

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