Last week I visited a special place at the Airforce Museum – it is called the Canterbury Cultural Collections Recovery Centre. The name is quite a mouthful, but to put it simply this is a place for local museums and other organisations to store and repair their collections.
Moya Sherriff is an intern at the CCCRC. She has been doing some excellent blog posts summarising the work and progress of the Centre:
In November 2011, the Air Force Museum started construction on a new building development, to create an extension for the exhibition, restoration and conservation spaces of the large object collections.
The role of the CCCRC is to provide a free space for those cultural organisations within Canterbury who have either lost their premises due to the earthquakes or are in need of temporary collection storage while their buildings are going through the EQC repair process. Each group has been given a designated storage area within the Recovery Centre and a shared workspace where organisations can re-group, assess the consequences and needs of collections and begin the processes of documentation, cataloguing and boxing, while having access to conservation treatments.
The work being done is important. The collections are being catalogued, reorganised, and repaired. Networks are being forged, workers are gaining new skills and knowledge, and this project is a model of cooperation and collaboration.
Canterbury Cultural Collections Recovery Centre timeline
Natural history museums contain many thousands of zoological specimens and each has a tale to tell – often involving extraordinary people, daring explorations, unquenchable scientific curiosity, and strange coincidences. This perfectly presented book, with its engaging pictures, is rich in stories and unveils many secrets.
Read about: the fate of a tortoise given as a gift by Captain Cook; the epic international voyage of the biggest known moa egg; the admiration induced by an ape from the jungles of Borneo; the barn owl of mysterious origins; the unfortunate fate of an angry young elephant; the quest to discover how a New Zealand heron turned up in a Florence museum; the strange arrival of an Australian banjo frog and many other mind-boggling mysteries.
You can read The owl that fell from the sky as an e-book from our Overdrive collection.
The owl that fell from the sky is also available as a paper book.
I’ve always been a fan of visiting writers’ and artists’ houses. In New Zealand we don’t have a big number of such places but some are easily reachable for Christchurch residents.
The first is the Ngaio Marsh House in Lower Cashmere. It has fortunately survived the earthquakes and is able to be visited. A couple of years ago I went to an open day and was allowed to have a quick trip around taking photographs.
In Oamaru there is Janet Frame’s old family home. I can really recommend a visit. Although the house has changed a lot since Janet’s life there, the back garden still runs down to the reserve and you can see the pine trees of “the Plannies”. Each room has some well chosen pieces of Janet’s writing and some memorabilia. It is an opportunity to focus on her writing skills and just how fine a wordsmith she was. The curator is very welcoming. For the energetic there is also a walking trail to various landmarks around Oamaru.
I’ve also visited Katherine Mansfield’s family home in Tinakori Road. Still to come is Frank Sargeson’s House on Esmonde Road, Takapuna, the Dan Davin House in Invercargill and the Colin McCahon house in Titirangi. Some Kiwi writers might be more challenging – James K Baxter could be a student squat in Dunedin, Jerusalem on the Wanganui River, a postie’s route in Wellington with a few pubs thrown in…?
On overseas trips I have enjoyed museums in houses where musicians, artists and writers lived – Wordsworth, Elgar, Handel, Rodin, Monet, Jane Austen and Hans Heysen in Adelaide. Guardian readers recently suggested a few of their favourites.
Have you visited any of these New Zealand literary and artistic haunts? Or some overseas ones? What did you think?