Telling un­told war sto­ries

Dur­ing a se­ries of talks Te Papa lead cu­ra­tor Kirstie Ross will delve into some of the more un­known el­e­ments of Gal­lipoli: The Scale of

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our War.

Did you have an in­ter­est in Wwibefore be­ing in­volved in plan­ning the ex­hi­bi­tion?

I’m not a mil­i­tary his­to­rian but I was in­ter­ested in the so­cial his­tory of WWI but it was through build­ing our col­lec­tions in readi­ness for the cen­ten­nial that it re­ally peaked my in­ter­est, es­pe­cially af­ter see­ing some of the in­ti­mate treasures that we started col­lect­ing.

What were some of the chal­lenges in get­ting Gal­lipoli: The Scale of our War all to­gether?

You have to ac­count for the longevity of the ex­hi­bi­tion, peo­ple are rough and there’s often chil­dren run­ning around so we had to make sure it would last and hold up to 1.5 mil­lion vis­i­tors (so far) com­ing through. Here at Te Papa, we know how to make ex­hi­bi­tions but some­times, for some­thing as big as this, you need to bring in those out­side ex­perts to cre­ate the best pos­si­ble ex­hi­bi­tion.

Were a lot of the items used in the Te Papa col­lec­tion al­ready or did you have to seek them out?

There are a lot of spe­cial­ist col­lec­tors out there so we bor­rowed a lot which we were re­ally lucky to be able to do in a short time. How­ever, with Gal­lipoli, we took the nar­ra­tive and the topic and built all of the in­ter­pre­tive me­dia around that story so it’s a dif­fer­ent kind of ex­hi­bi­tion.

What’s some­thing about the ex­hi­bi­tion that most peo­ple might not know?

One of our cu­ra­tors went to Gal­lipoli in the early stages of the project and she took pho­tos of the stones there which were used on these re­ally ro­bust tiles from Ja­pan which are through­out the ex­hi­bi­tion.

The planned talks fo­cus on sou­venirs, the role of nurses and food dur­ing the Great War – Why­have you cho­sen those spe­cific top­ics to ex­plore in­depth?

It’s about open­ing up the ex­hi­bi­tion and ex­plor­ing those un­known top­ics that are very re­lat­able. It’s pulling out some of those uni­ver­sal themes so sou­venir­ing was rife dur­ing the war which is some­thing I’ll talk about in one of my ses­sions which is about the me­men­tos that the sol­diers brought home from bat­tle to prove they were ac­tu­ally there and made his­tory.

Can you ex­plain what ‘trench art’ is?

One of the nurses, Daisy Hitch­cock, brought back some amaz­ing art, some of which was made for her by re­cu­per­at­ing sol­diers. It was things like en­graved alu­minium plates and cups, pens made out of shell and rif­fle car­tridges, that type of thing. ❚ Gal­lipoli Talks with Kirstie Ross, Au­gust 22, 24& 30, 11:15am, see tepapa.govt.nz for more in­for­ma­tion.

LOOK WHO’S TALK­ING ‘‘You have to ac­count for the longevity of the ex­hi­bi­tion, peo­ple are rough and there's often chil­dren run­ning around so we had to make sure it would last and hold up to 1.5 mil­lion vis­i­tors com­ing through.’’ Te Papa cu­ra­tor Kirstie Ross

Te Papa cu­ra­tor Kirstie Ross will dis­cuss some of the lesser known top­ics of WWI. PHOTO: RUBY MACANDREW/STUFF

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