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Treasured items on display for museum's 150th birthday

Wednesday, October 14, 2020   Posted in: Signatory Notice Board By: Administrator With tags: heritage, exhibition

Christchurch City Council Newsline: 14th October 2020

The world's last remaining huia nest is one of the rarely-seen taonga on show in a Christchurch Heritage Festival exhibition marking 150 years since the Canterbury Museum first opened its doors.

The Museum’s collection has grown from 25,000 objects to more than 2.3 million since that opening day on 1st October 1870.

31 of these taonga (treasures) have emerged from the Museum’s storerooms to be displayed to mark the 150th anniversary, in the exhibition House of Treasures: Ngā Taonga Tuku Iho - one of more than 50 events in this year's Christchurch Heritage Festival.

Highlights from the exhibition include the boots Sir Edmund Hillary wore when he summited Mount Everest, the dress Kate Sheppard wears on the $10 note, and the only remaining nest of New Zealand’s extinct native huia bird.

The items range in size from the 4.5 metre-long South Island Giant Moa skeleton to the 0.63mm long fairy fly – one of the smallest flying insects in the world.

House of Treasures includes probably the oldest human-made object in the collection - an Acheulean hand-axe likely crafted by an ancient human species up to 450,000 years ago.

Museum Director Anthony Wright says the exhibition is an opportunity for Cantabrians to view some of their more rarely-seen treasures.

“Some of these objects don’t go on display very often, either because they’re too delicate - like the Kate Sheppard dress - or because we just don’t have the space.

“The huia nest is one of my absolute favourites. It’s the only known nest in the world, which makes for very poignant viewing.”

The objects in the exhibition are drawn from a book the Museum has produced celebrating its 150th year on Rolleston Avenue. The book features 150 taonga from the Museum’s collection, captured by award-winning photographer Jane Ussher with text by Museum staff.

The House of Treasures: Ngā Taonga Tuku Iho exhibition is on Level 3 of the Canterbury Museum until 13th June 2021.

The Christchurch Heritage Festival runs from Saturday 24th October until Sunday 8th November 2020.