Open day marks 70th an­niver­sary

Otago Daily Times - - REGIONS - GUY WIL­LIAMS AND DAISY HUD­SON

SEVENTY years ago to­day a com­mit­tee was con­vened in Arrowtown to set up a mu­seum.

Yes­ter­day the mu­seum’s gal­leries rang with the sound of chil­dren, their par­ents, and vis­i­tors from all over the world as it marked the an­niver­sary with an open day.

Many tried gold pan­ning with the help of world cham­pion pan­ners Stu Ide and daugh­ter Me­gan Ide­Neill.

Oth­ers tried on Vic­to­rian­era clothes, or turned their hand to arts and craft ac­tiv­i­ties touch­ing on as­pects of the dis­trict’s his­tory.

Also pop­u­lar were old­fash­ioned school lessons — com­plete with fin­ger­nail in­spec­tions, the Lord’s Prayer and times ta­bles — over­seen by the stern, cane­wield­ing ‘‘Miss Grey’’ played by ed­u­ca­tion of­fi­cer Kelly Roos.

The mu­seum was es­tab­lished as a Cen­ten­nial of Otago project in 1948, start­ing life in the bil­liard rooms of the Bal­larat Ho­tel be­fore shift­ing east along Buck­ing­ham St to its present home, the for­mer Bank of New Zealand build­ing, in 1955.

It records the dis­trict’s colour­ful his­tory from its gold min­ing roots and the be­gin­nings of its tourism in­dus­try, to ma­jor events such as flood­ing in the 1990s.

It has been vis­ited by Queen El­iz­a­beth II, the Queen Mother, high­rank­ing Chi­nese lead­ers and other dig­ni­taries.

The next big project on the mu­seum’s hori­zon is earth­quake strength­en­ing. The old bank and sta­bles be­side the mu­seum, where some of its col­lec­tion is housed, is earth­quake­prone.

A con­ser­va­tion plan and earth­quake­strength­en­ing plan have been com­pleted, and work is un­der way to de­ter­mine the ex­act cost of the up­grade to the cat­e­gory 2 her­itage build­ing.

PHOTO: GUY WIL­LIAMS

Dressed for the times . . . Lakes Dis­trict Mu­seum staff wear pe­riod cloth­ing dur­ing yes­ter­day’s 70th an­niver­sary open day. With di­rec­tor David Clarke (seated) are (from left) Wendy Clarke, Vicki How­ell, Glenys Young, Jean Heigh­way, Felic­ity Huang, Anne McGuire, Kelly Roos and Jane Peasey.

PHOTO: LAKES DIS­TRICT MU­SEUM

Vi­sion . . . Mem­bers of the Lakes Dis­trict Mu­seum’s es­tab­lish­ment com­mit­tee look at plans for trans­form­ing the Bal­larat Ho­tel’s sam­ple rooms into the mu­seum’s first home on Buck­ing­ham St in 1948. The site is now oc­cu­pied by Arrowtown Bak­ery and Cafe.

PHOTO: LAKES DIS­TRICT MU­SEUM

Grow­ing col­lec­tion . . . The court­yard of the mu­seum at its present site in 1977.

PHOTO: GUY WIL­LIAMS

Pre­cious metal . . . Stu­art Ide (right), of Queen­stown, teaches French vis­i­tor Pavel Kas­ber­ski (10) how to pan for gold as Pavel’s fa­ther, Piotr, watches.

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