Leading Museums, Museum Leaders

Fred & Myrtle’s Paua Shell House at CM

Fred and Myrtle Flutey at their famed paua house in Bluff in September 1998. They became quite the local celebrities with their unusual collection and they welcomed more than one million visitors into their home over the years.

Saidy Whitelocks, The quirky home adorned with more than 1,000 shells, a doting husband collected for his wife – and now the abode is a museum exhibit, Daily Mail, 9 June 2019

How much would you shell out for your loved one?

For one man in New Zealand, the answer was ‘a lot’. But not money. Actual shells.

Fred Flutey collected beautiful iridescent paua shells from his local beach for his wife, Myrtle, with the romantic’s collection eventually topping more than 1,000. The couple adorned their cosy home with the shells to the extent that it quickly became a local tourist attraction – now it’s a museum exhibit.

In 2007, some years after the couple passed away, their family agreed to loan the Flutey Collection of more than 4,000 objects, including 1,234 paua shells, to Canterbury Museum.

On 4 July 2008, Fred and Myrtle’s Shell House opened to the public.

The front portion of the house was recreated in the museum from the original plans of the Flutey’s home and from photographs and footage of the couple’s living room.

Once inside the bungalow, visitors are greeted by hundreds of shiny paua shells lining the walls and other intriguing original knickknacks, from garden ornaments to old photos.

The original items also include the carpet and house number.

The Flutey’s home was originally located in Bluff, a small fishing town at the bottom of the South Island.

They became quite the local celebrities with their unusual hoard and welcomed more than one million visitors into their home over the years.

The charismatic couple greeted their visitors in person, sharing stories about their collection and their passion for paua.

Museum director Anthony Wright says that museum visitors continue to be surprised and delighted by Fred and Myrtle’s Paua Shell House and often ‘laugh out loud’ during the accompanying short film.

He added: ‘Since we opened Fred and Myrtle’s Paua Shell House eight years ago it has become a much-loved part of the museum, preserving a slice of Kiwi life for generations of visitors to enjoy.’

So far more than 1.45 million people have visited the unusual museum exhibit.

In 2007, some years after the couple passed away, their family agreed to loan the Flutey Collection of more than 4,000 objects, including 1,234 paua shells, to Canterbury Museum.

In 2007, some years after the couple passed away, their family agreed to loan the Flutey Collection of more than 4,000 objects, including 1,234 paua shells, to Canterbury Museum.

Museum director Anthony Wright says that museum visitors continue to be surprised and delighted by Fred and Myrtle’s Paua Shell House and often ‘laugh out loud’ during the accompanying short film.

He added: ‘Since we opened Fred and Myrtle’s Paua Shell House eight years ago it has become a much-loved part of the museum, preserving a slice of Kiwi life for generations of visitors to enjoy.’

So far more than 1.45 million people have visited the unusual museum exhibit.

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Council of Australasian Museum Directors, c/o Ms Daryl Karp, Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House PO Box 3934 Manuka, Australian Capital Territory 2603 Australia, © CAMD 2019
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