As exhibitions change, different treasures come out from storage and have their moment in the light. Curators use collection items to weave narratives, and it’s through this technique of story-telling that our visitors get to experience a range of subject matters and see more and more objects from the Hawke’s Bay Museums Trust collection.
Exhibitions provide a view into the collections through a variety of ways. One method is grouping like items together and showing the richness and diversity of the collection, such as in current exhibition Silver: Heirlooms from the collection. All exhibitions are informative - Turuturu (the weaving peg) introduces the visitor to Māori flax and fibre weaving techniques. Other exhibitions will tell particular stories using a range of items - current examples are Tender is the Night and Rongonui: Taonga mai ngā tāngata, ngā wāhi, me ngā takahanga: Treasured taonga from people, places and events. The recent art exhibition, 5 Pākehā Painters, explored themes using a common object type. There are also exhibitions planned with a target audience in mind, such as Mystery of History – aimed to appeal to children and families.
Being both a museum and art gallery, we work hard to ensure that a range of subject matters are covered, including art, Māori and social history. As a regional institution, we tell stories from across Hawke’s Bay. We also share national and, at times, international content as and when appropriate. It can be a hard balancing act and can sway one way or another at different periods but over time there should be a balance.
The changing nature of exhibitions allows us to share a rich diversity of content throughout the course of a given year and the exhibitions planned for 2020 give an example of this. In October, we’ll present an exhibition of Billy Apple’s work - Billy Apple is a New Zealand born international artist with a particular link to Hawke’s Bay. Another exhibition, built on learning the Māori alphabet, will show animal themed objects from across the collection. We’ll be delivering an exhibition in November on Hawke’s Bay freezing works past and present. An art display looks at works in the context of politics of the day, while another will highlight watercolours prior to the 1931 Hawke’s Bay earthquake from local artist, Lewis Evans. A particularly poignant display scheduled for late July, will memorialise children who died in the Holocaust during World War II.
Exhibitions are not the only means of accessing the Hawke’s Bay Museums Trust eclectic collection. Some objects are available online through the MTG Hawke’s Bay website. The website is updated with more objects added each year. Researchers and special interest groups regularly make appointments to view collections and archives. Individuals who have a particular item or groups of items they would like to see, such as those donated by family members, can also make an appointment to see these items in storage. For those who have a general interest, we have monthly collection storage tours – some providing a general overview, while others focus on a particular subject, such as textiles or Māori taonga. There is a small charge for the subject specific tours, while the general introductory tours are free. All tours are advertised on the MTG Hawke’s Bay website and our Facebook page.
Image: Monkey money box, going on display mid-April.
10 February 2020
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