Living exhibition a first
By Dean Taylor
Toni Fortune is making an exhibition of herself - to the delight of her employer.
The archivist is Te Awamutu Museum’s display for this month in what they believe is a New Zealand first - a living, working exhibition of one of its own staff.
‘Archives Exposed - keeping the community memory’ comes in response to one of the most common questions about museums - what do the staff do?
For three weeks Mrs Fortune will work in the gallery caring for old documents and maps, cataloguing diaries and photo albums, helping people access the huge archive collection the museum has.
She will have the volunteers who assist her during the week popping in as usual and they too will work in the gallery and explain to people what they do and how it contributes to the museum collections.
Mrs Fortune, who is passionate about her work, says “archives are the key to unlocking yesterday’s secrets”.
She will also be able to advise visitors how best to care for their own special records at home.
An archive is any non-current record of an organisation, institution or person preserved because of its continuing long term value. The record can be on many types of media, from a piece of wood to a DVD disc, and includes such items as rolls, records, minute books and diaries.
The museum specifically cares for items from our region and within the archive collection of 12,000 items there is a huge range, including postcards sent home by Waipa soldiers at war, an 1860’s Forest Rangers register, oral histories, a large photographic collection, land grants and much more.
Mrs Fortune says the opportunity to spread out and not have to put items away is a luxury. Normally she works in the research room, but often has to pack up when others need the space for research or meetings. She says it will be a good chance to attack the backlog of material.
Te Awamutu Museum is free to visit. Opening hours are 10am until 4pm weekdays and Sunday and 10am until 1pm Saturday.