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Friday, September 21, 2018

Wellington Museum


In the old days the lovely old-style museum in the historic Bond Store, on Wellington's waterfront, was known as the Maritime Museum of Wellington.  Then, when the very good National Maritime Museum in Auckland got its "National" status, a name-change had to be contemplated, and our museum became the Museum of Wellington, City and Sea.

Ponderous, I admit.  Now, it is simply known as Wellington Museum, but it is just as great.  And it has recently been voted one of the top 50 museums in the world.

And it is free.  And it is in easy walking distance of the cruise shuttle bus stops.  If the shuttle stops in Wakefield Street, at the i-Site, an ambassador will direct you to the waterfront, where you can traipse north to Queen's Wharf, where the museum sits on the corner of the access to the city.

If you are decanted on Lambton Quay, near the Old Government House, an ambassador will direct you to Featherston Street, where an easy walk will take you south to Queen's Wharf, where the museum dominates the entry.

There are all kinds of reasons to visit this museum, quite apart from the clean, handy restrooms, and the extremely tempting and well-laid-out gift shop.  The museum itself is a revelation of our colonial past.

We paid one of our many visits yesterday, to check the latest offerings with the extremely helpful young man in reception.  First, as he reminded us, the museum will open an hour early -- at 9 a.m. -- on cruise ship days.  Second, he recommended that after entering via the Bond Store (watch for the rat and the cat!) the tour should start at the top, in the newly created Attic.  And yes, there is an elevator.

The Attic
It’s here that the weird, worrisome and wonderful stories of Wellington’s history take centre stage. Displaying fantastical creations from lions to flying saucers, this steampunk-styled exhibit space is a museum experience with a difference. The Attic begs you to be curious. To explore. To listen. Even to time-travel. And to be totally engaged. You never know what you’ll find. 
Ngā HauStashed in The Attic is a time machine, Ngā Hau, which combines the magic of cinema with installation art. Spinning and clanking its way through time, Ngā Hau takes you on a journey through Wellington’s history, where you meet significant characters who share their stories with you. Ngā Hau breathes life into our history – you’ll be captivated!
Ngā Hau was developed by Perceptual Engineering in conjunction with Wellington Museum.
The Frederick de Jersey Clere RoomWellington Museum (The Bond Store) was designed by Frederick de Jersey Clere. Inside The Attic is a room dedicated to The English-born architect Frederick de Jersey Clere, where you’ll learn about the planning and design of the building, and see its original blueprints. The Bond Store is one of the most architecturally significant buildings in New Zealand

Further down the building are the Wahine Room, where a film relating the sad story of the Wahine shipwreck in Wellington Harbor runs at regular intervals.  And of course, our Maori past is not forgotten.

Ngā HekeExplore different perspectives and alternative histories, journeys and migrations. This exhibition showcases our most prized taonga, Te Whanganui a Tara (The Great Harbour of Tara), and contemporary work from Māori artists and poets. With a gallery-like feel and strong graphics, this space is set to stimulate, question and interact.
A Millennium AgoA Millennium Ago – Māori Stories from Way Back uses intriguing theatrical illusionistic techniques to tell Māori creation legends.

And of course there is much space devoted to Wellington's colorful maritime past.

You can see a series of photographs in this gallery -- courtesy of TripAdvisor, where reviewers have put it in the top 15 great things to do in Wellington.

And yes, it is possible to have your own private guided tour.  It is called the "Cup of Curiosity Tour." Discover Wellington's cool and quirky stories as you tour the museum from top to bottom, and finish with a great cup of coffee and a delicious treat.  

The tours begin at the reception counter at 10:15 a.m.  You should allow 90 minutes (ideal for cruisers) and costs $29 for adults, and $21 for children.

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