Open day marks 70th anniversary
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.
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.
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.
Growing collection . . . The courtyard of the museum at its present site in 1977.
Precious metal . . . Stuart Ide (right), of Queenstown, teaches French visitor Pavel Kasberski (10) how to pan for gold as Pavel’s father, Piotr, watches.