Sunday, 17 November 2019

WHITIANGA WEATHER

A behind the scenes tour of the Mercury Bay Museum

Each Saturday in January beginning at either 11:00am or 2:00pm, the public is invited to attend a behind the scenes tour of the Mercury Bay Museum. For only $10 a person, you are treated to a 30 minute-experience of all the museum’s hidden gems that aren’t on public display.  

Last Saturday, I attended the 11:00am session with my sister and we’ve had a thoroughly enjoyable morning. A highlight of the tour was the Collection Room. Behind the hidden door of the room many important historical items are kept. The items are also inventoried and maintained in the room. We were given gloves to wear so we could handle and inspect the items. Of particular interest was a 130-year-old wedding dress and a ladies’ muff accessory made from kiwi feathers. There were many other fascinating items, including old cameras, domestic irons, keys, telephones, sewing machines and swords.

Many household items donated to the museum are being kept in an adjoining room. Egg cups and kitchen mincers are among the more common items. There even are old food packets and tins - some of which are still full with their original contents. The museum prefers to receive items where a bit about their history is known, such as who owned the items and for how long, or what it was used for.

Also very interesting was the old water tank of the Mercury Bay Dairy Factory (the building in which the museum is situated). Inside an abundance of history is preserved. Old maps, cash books and novels - many more than 100 years old - are waiting to be sorted through and analysed. Even the museum is unsure of exactly all that’s in there. Over time, everything will be inventoried.

We’ve also had a look through a room displaying stunning aerial photos of the Whitianga landscape and an entire wall dedicated to well-known local family icons. In order to make the wall, the people whose photos are displayed needed to have had family members living in the Whitianga area for at least 100 years, with a descendent still present in the area now.

Lastly we visited a room where a museum volunteer is busy alphabetising family records and photos.

We were also able to appreciate a new workshop/storage room, where the museum staff and volunteers are thankful to have a larger space to handle and restore the items in their possession.

A huge thank you to the Mercury Bay Museum. The tour is a genuinely interesting and educational adventure, something which both young and old, locals and tourist are bound to enjoy.

Picture: Some of the hidden gems that aren’t on public display in the Mercury Bay Museum.

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The Mercury Bay Informer is a highly popular community newspaper, based in Whitianga. The paper is distributed throughout the Coromandel Peninsula, coast to coast from Thames to north of Colville.