New Memorial Space
Prior to the installation of Auckland 1866, the space was enjoyed as a library and a theatre. Source: Auckland War Memorial Museum.
Auckland War Memorial Museum, Media Release: Auckland Museum to uncover original architecture and develop new memorial space, 26 August 2015
The iconic heritage building, Auckland War Memorial Museum, is reaching the latest milestone in its heritage maintenance and restoration plan. Starting next month, new work will focus on the East Gallery on the top floor of the Museum and the restoration and preservation of heritage elements of the internal walls and architectural features.
Following an exterior restoration focus, including uncovering long-concealed windows and skylights, the interior work will ultimately reveal the original neo-classical design for the first time in almost 50 years. Features include marble skirting, columns and an engraved timber stage. Once the space is ready the Museum will install a commemoration centre in which people will be able to share knowledge and to learn about the human contributions to New Zealand’s war history.
Funding for the restoration work is from the Museum’s own resources, but the New Zealand Lotteries Grants Board has generously granted funds for the new public spaces, due to open in late 2016.
The East Gallery is currently occupied by Auckland 1866, an exhibition that was a generous gift to the Museum in 1967 from the historic Auckland department store Milne and Choyce.
To create an ongoing legacy for the exhibition, Auckland 1866 and its collection items will become Auckland Museum’s first exhibition to be recreated online. Through a digital project, the exhibition has been captured as it is today within the gallery. In future, once the exhibitions closes, visitors will be able to continue to interact with and move around the space online, discovering different stories and collections items along the way.
Roy Clare said that Auckland 1866 will always be dear to the hearts of Aucklanders, and by making it available online the exhibition’s stories and legacy can continue to be explored for generations to come.
“In saying farewell to Auckland 1866, we pay tribute to those who supported the investment in 1965 and who foresaw its popularity. We honour the legacy of the exhibition and respect our visitors’ memories of it over the past 50 years,” says Mr Clare.
Auckland Museum Director Roy Clare said that the work is a significant part in the Museum’s long term strategy – Future Museum, and another step in the evolution of the Museum.
Scott Milne, descendant of the Milne family, acknowledges the desire and need for Museum refurbishment. “Auckland 1866 was a cutting-edge exhibition development in the 1960s. Visiting the Museum’s current exhibition, Taku Tāmaki Auckland Stories, it’s easy to see how much things have changed over the years. The new presentation really shows you how far museums have come.”
Auckland 1866 will officially close on 28 September 2015, following a special finale weekend as part of the Auckland Heritage Festival on 26 and 27 September. Aucklanders are encouraged to visit, share their memories and learn about the technology that will enable the exhibition and its collections to continue to be available online. There will be behind the scenes tours that reveal the original heritage architecture and the gallery will come alive with Victorian characters, activities and photo opportunities.