The Nelson Provincial Museum

Issue#7 July 2009
The Nelson Provincial Museum Collection Online

Collections Online

The Nelson Provincial Museum is proud to bring you Collections Online the Museum's new online public access catalogue. Funded by grants from Canterbury Community Trust and the New Zealand Lottery Grants Board, this online catalogue lets you search over some of the many collections held by the Museum.

We currently have only a small percentage of our collections online but check back regularly as we are always adding to the catalogue. more >>

Website Changes

As well as Collections Online we have made a number of other changes to our website;


We have added a new Governance page to our website detailing the role of the Museum's governing body the Tasman Bays Heritage Trust. This page includes profiles of Trust Board members, governance policies, documents and annual reports. more >>

Royal Visit 1974, Geoffrey C Wood Collection, 9721 fr 5
Royal Visit 1974, Geoffrey C Wood Collection, 9721 fr 5 (part of)


We have added a page dedicated to the Enewsletter where you can view archived copies of previous issues as well as view the current issue online. We have also added a new sign up form to become a subscriber to the enewsletter so please let your friends, family and colleagues know. more >>

Nelson Evening Mail Office, Tyree Studio Collection, 32964/3
Nelson Evening Mail Office, Tyree Studio Collection, 32964/3 (part of)


We recently introduced a family membership scheme which provides families with a number of benefits such as unlimited free entry to all exhibitions at TA445 and discounted entry to a number of other attractions. more >>

Dron Family, Tyree Studio Collection, 180298/3
Dron Family, Tyree Studio Collection, 180298/3 (part of)

Selecon Award - Melbourne

In July Paula Haines-Bellamy (Manager, Collection Services) had the opportunity to spend some time in Melbourne. The prize package, sponsored by Selecon New Zealand Limited, was presented to the Nelson Provincial Museum as the recipient of the 2009 Museums Aotearoa Award for Exhibition Excellence for the exhibition Unpicking the Past: revealing our dress collection held between April and July last year. The trip gave Paula the opportunity to visit designers and exhibition experts in Melbourne. Paula spent 10 days in Melbourne visiting a staggering 16 museums, galleries, libraries, and many historic buildings, looking at aspects of exhibition and lighting design, object display and storage, and public access. The Nelson Provincial Museum would like to thank Selecon New Zealand Limited for their generous support.

View of Melbourne from the William Barak Bridge
View of Melbourne from the William Barak Bridge
An image from the exhibition Persuasion
An image from the exhibition Persuasion: Fashion in the Age of Jane Austen at the National Gallery of Victoria

New Staff Member - Helen Pannett

My name is Helen Pannett and I am the new Manager of the Library and Archives Collection at the Museum's Research Facility at Isel Park in Stoke.

I moved to Nelson from Invercargill last month after spending the past 29 years in library work in public, academic and corporate libraries.

Te Tau Ihu O Te Waka a Maui is an exciting region and I am learning much about the history and opportunities available here.

I am enjoying the changes and challenges of a sole-charge position and becoming familiar with the resources and taonga held by the Museum.

I look forward to helping you with your enquiries in the future.

Helen Pannett
Manager, Library & Archives Collection, Helen Pannett

Dr Seddon Bennington

The staff and Trust Board of The Nelson Provincial Museum note with sadness the death of Dr Seddon Bennington, the Director of our national museum, Te Papa Tongarewa. He and a close friend Rosie Jackson died in the Tararua Ranges during a tramping trip. Seddon’s contribution to the museum sector in New Zealand has been significant as has his support for the national role of Te Papa. Internationally in both Australia and the US he advanced the contributions made by the science centre movement and that work was appreciated here in New Zealand during the early days of the first science centres in this country.

You can visit Te Papa's online memorial to Dr Bennington here or by clicking on the image.

Dr Seddon Bennington, 2003
Dr Seddon Bennington, 2003.


NZ Fossils - Dead Precious!

Nearly a hundred people a day have taken the opportunity to view this unique collection of objects. The reactions of more than 7000 visitors suggest that all the hard work of mounting the exhibition and arranging for the display of additional items such as the Giant Eagle and the Plesiosaur was worthwhile.

NZ Fossils - Sponsors

These fossils are the remains and evidence of things that lived in or near the land, we now call New Zealand, millions of years ago. The stories of how they were discovered in road cuttings and buried in rocks are well told and you can bet there will be another crop of children wanting to be palaeontologists when they grow up. We have some great programme ideas lined up; some for parents, some for families and some especially for children.

NZ Fossils - Sponsors


NZ Fossils - Sponsors

Eagle model sponsored by The Lion FoundationEagle model sponsored by the Lion Foundation

Psittacosaurus on Display in the Nelson Building Society Window

Literally a "parrot-beaked lizard" this small dinosaur wandered the earth in China and Asia about 100 million years ago. They seem to have occupied a similar place in the food chain to modern gazelles, munching on cycads and other tough plant material and being hunted by dinosaurs like Tyrannosaurus Rex or other meat-eaters. Look closely and you may well see why biologists think it was probably bipedal, using its front limbs while feeding.

This specimen belongs to James Brewer who has set up a fossil shop in our foyer. The Psittacosaurus skeleton is on display in the Nelson Building Society window in Trafalgar Street and is well worth a visit while you are in town.

Report on Dino Nursery

As an example of live interpretation our Dinosaur Nursery show was quite modest in what it sought to achieve. Over 900 people saw the show in its 2 week season and the response was overwhelmingly positive. The two students from Nayland College drama course, Kris and Zach, showed that with sensitivity and common sense it was possible to engage with children as young as two on subjects that many adults find hard to understand. Did some children think that dinosaurs still exist? Quite possibly given the lifelike appearance of the 'puppet'. More than one adult was heard to say "well I know its not a dinsosaur but what sort of animal is it?" Our thanks to ERTH PHYSICAL & VISUAL in Sydney for the hire of their 'baby', special thanks to Zach and Kris, and thanks too for the support of staff in making it happen. Nearly half the visitors who attended the Fossils exhibition over the holidays came to the Dinosaur Nursery as well.


We all love dinosaurs - well don't we? Certainly kids do and not only do they recognise the different types, they can pronounce them before they can even read. Some people never quite grow out of them. Our Director Peter Millward is one, but so too it seems are Bernie and Miriam Crutchley from Mariri. Twenty years ago they decided to build a full sized skeleton to graze on their front lawn. Quite what passing traffic would have made of a large white skeleton the size of an African elephant in front of their house stretches the imagination. In the event the skull was as far as they got, completed and mounted and gifted to the Museum in time to add enormously to our holiday programme and education classes. This is one of those gifts that is hard to refuse and is certainly embued with the WOW factor.

Bernie and Miriam Crutchley with their Triceratops model.
Photo by Martin De Ruyter, The Nelson Mail


One of the most common questions asked by children especially when they see fossils is "But what did it look like?" Lots of people like fossils but many of them forget that every fossil is evidence of something that was once alive. Quite early on the education staff at the Museum decided they wanted people to remember the living past as well as the rocky reminders left behind. The Pterosaur is so big that the original idea of having it mounted 'flying' in the gallery proved to be impossible. The 13m wingspan was bigger than the space where it was meant to go. Woops. At ground level the detail of the model and its size allows smaller people to make more sense of it. We did have these ancient flying reptiles in New Zealand. Indeed New Zealand's own Dinosaur Lady, the late Joan Wiffen discovered a partial wing bone and a cast of this is displayed nearby. In New Zealand where so many early species were HUGE like the moa, our Pterosaur was small by world standards at about 6m wingspan. In Mexico one was discovered at nearly 18m tip to tip and that is bigger than a Spitfire fighter aircraft.

Ferdinand von Hochstetter
Father of New Zealand Geology
150th Anniversary of his survey of the Nelson Region

Described by many scientists as "the father of New Zealand geology" Ferdinand von Hochstetter arrived in this country in 1858 as a member of an Austrian scientific expedition and spent most of his time in this country describing and mapping newly discovered mineral fields.

In 1859 The Nelson Provincial Government invited Hochstetter to investigate the region's mineral deposits and report on their potential for commercial use.

The Hochstetter exhibition traces the work of this remarkable young scientist during his visit to New Zealand. It includes reproductions of his watercolours and maps and has some of the original specimens he arranged for the Nelson Institute on display.


Ferdinand von Hochstetter
Hochstetter Sponsors

Up and Coming Exhibition: Returning Butterflies

Returning in the spring, there are at least 15 species of native butterflies to be found in our gardens, parks, and wild places. Like much of our wildlife their numbers have, by all accounts, dwindled - so much so that many people are unaware of the diversity or even existence of native species.

Returning butterflies to their former numbers is one focus of the exhibition, through the simple, practical steps that gardeners and landowners can take. The exhibition also explores: our butterfly biodiversity; how to recognise them; where they are to be found in the Nelson region; features of their biology; and recent threats to their survival.

Return visits are made by a handful of migrant species that cross the Tasman most years and regularly appear in the Nelson region - an added bonus for butterfly watchers! We show you what to look out for.

On view there will be live specimens, of some native species, in various life stages.

Red Admiral
Red Admiral Butterfly

School Education Programme

New Zealand Fossils - Dead precious! Why do they call this exhibition Dead Precious? Students from all over Nelson are discovering the reasons. We did have dinosaurs and huge sea reptiles. We had gigantic sharks and tiny trilobites. In the school programme students have a chance to explore the exhibition and to have hands on experiences with real fossils and modelling exercises.

Senior students will also gain information about the work of Ferdinand Hochstetter in this region back in 1859. He is known as the ‘father of NZ geology'.

There are lots of spaces available next term for classes. Book now to avoid disappointment.

Education Resources Online

The Nelson Provincial Museum's Education Services team have a number of online resources available to the region's schools and educators. more

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