Since July this year, I’ve had the pleasure of being involved with the Faraday Centre. Originally called the Hawke’s Bay Museum of Technology it was started in 1979 by, the late, Dave Prebensen and based in Taradale. It then moved to a site on the corner of Tennyson Street and Milton Road, before relocating to its current location on Faraday Street, when it was renamed the Faraday Centre.
The Faraday Centre building holds a 1925 Fullagar diesel engine, believed to be the only operational Fullagar engine of its age in the world. This particular engine has special significance as it provided the only source of power for Napier following the 1931 Hawke’s Bay earthquake. Architectural plans showing the layout of the power station and the Fullagar generating plant are held in the Hawke’s Bay Museums Trust collection.
There are a lot of interesting objects and machines on display at the Faraday Centre, as well as a huge amount of working interactive exhibits. You can try a whisper dish and see if you can pass a secret message from one side of the building to another, see the Fullagar engine in action, try using old telephones or learn about static electricity. There’s a Teslar coil, mirror activities, vehicles to climb in and so much more. I personally enjoy trying my hand at the bells, which came from the T & G building on Marine Parade. With summer holidays coming up this is a great place for family visits. Alongside Mystery of History, here at MTG Hawke’s Bay as well as all our other exhibitions and activities, there are two great museums to visit with little ones in tow.
Previously run entirely by volunteers, the Faraday Centre received some staffing support from Napier City Council around 2016 and there’s now a part-time manager in place. One person cannot run a place like the Faraday Centre alone and they’re still heavily reliant on volunteers to continue to offer the fun, engaging and interactive experience of the Faraday. These volunteers do a huge range of activities. They welcome visitors into the museum, help people navigate the building and figure out how all the interactives work, and point out hidden gems within the displays. Others help put displays together, build award-winning Christmas parade floats, and carry out general carpentry or building work. Volunteers with more specialised technical skills ensure big pieces of machinery and equipment are functional, thereby keeping the magic of the Faraday Centre alive as a working museum.
We need more volunteers to keep the Faraday Centre going and are interested in hearing from anyone keen to help. If you like tinkering with machines, have technical knowledge or enjoy bringing equipment back to life, then the Faraday Centre is the place for you. For those who enjoy engaging with people – there’s a huge amount of fun to be had helping visitors interact with all the items on display. If you’d like to join us and think you can help, please contact the Faraday Centre on 835 2338 – any form of support is welcome.
The Faraday Centre is open Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday from 9am to 3pm so why not take the time to drop in and see this gem of a museum.
WHAT’s ON at MTG Hawke’s Bay
8 December 2019
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