Ex­ten­sive col­lec­tion goes ‘live’ at mu­seum

Central Otago Mirror - - FRONT PAGE - By CHE BAKER

An in­ter­ac­tive pho­to­graph col­lec­tion of more than 2500 im­ages re­lat­ing to Cen­tral Otago’s his­tory has opened at the Cromwell Mu­seum. The Ron Mur­ray Col­lec­tion, held on a new touch-screen com­puter, tells the sto­ries of the early his­tory of Cromwell, Cen­tral Otago and the Otago re­gion. Mr Mur­ray’s nephew Scott Ben­net spent al­most two years dat­ing and iden­ti­fy­ing im­ages then scan­ning and digi­tis­ing the col­lec­tion so his un­cle’s de­pic­tion of the district’s his­tory could be made avail­able. ‘‘It has taken one and a-half years to digi­tise my un­cle’s his­tor­i­cal in­for­ma­tion but hopefully it should pro­vide a great re­source for fu­ture gen­er­a­tions,’’ Mr Ben­nett said. The ex­pan­sive col­lec­tion in­cludes im­ages of dredges, build­ings, town­ships, peo­ple, the Clyde dam, land­scapes, bridges and hun­dreds of doc­u­ments in­clud­ing news­pa­per clip­pings, di­ary ex­tracts, let­ters and arche­o­log­i­cal sur­veys. Cromwell Com­mu­nity Board chair­man Neil Gille­spie said the col­lec­tion ‘‘is a much-needed con­tri­bu­tion to the his­tory of Cen­tral Otago. ‘‘With th­ese pho­to­graphs and doc­u­ments our com­mu­nity will have the op­por­tu­nity to re­live the his­tory of Cen­tral Otago,’’ Mr Gille­spie said. Ron Mur­ray was a Cromwell iden­tity who worked for many years in a so­lic­i­tor’s of­fice. How­ever, his real pas­sion was his­tory, in par­tic­u­lar the Cromwell district and gold min­ing. A keen and skilled pho­tog­ra­pher, he copied a large num­ber of early pho­to­graphs of the area and spent many hours record­ing oral his­to­ries, re­search­ing and doc­u­ment­ing lo­cal his­tory. A high­light of Mr Mur­ray’s many hours re­search­ing Cen­tral Otago his­tory was co-writ­ing Costly Gold, a book on Clutha gold min­ing pub­lished in 1978. He also co-wrote ‘‘Early Pioneers in the Cromwell Area: 1863-1880’’ to mark Otago’s 150th an­niver­sary. In 1998 his work was recog­nised with life mem­ber­ship of the Cromwell and District His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety. Mr Mur­ray died in 2010, aged 82.

Early days: Mel­more Ter­race in Cromwell in 1876 courtesy of the Ron Mur­ray Col­lec­tion.

His­to­rian: Cromwell iden­tity the late Ron Mur­ray. The Ron Mur­ray Col­lec­tion, an in­ter­ac­tive pho­to­graph col­lec­tion, has opened at the Cromwell Mu­seum.

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