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Living Treasures Museum of Wellington City

Living Treasures Museum of Wellington City & Sea 7 April to mid-October 2004

Hurricanes captain and All Blacks vice-captain Tana Umaga, women’s health specialist Dr Diana Mason and leading architect Ian Athfield are three of the latest ‘living treasures’ to be celebrated at the Museum.

The final of three Living Treasures exhibitions opens April 7 and will run until October. Each exhibition in the series has featured six well-known Wellingtonians or people with strong connections to the region, who were invited to display objects they treasured as well as objects chosen from the Museum’s collection.

Other Wellingtonians to feature in the latest exhibition are: Deidre Tarrant, founder of Footnote Dance and of youth initiative The Deidre Tarrant Dance Theatre; Professor Ngatata Love, noted academic and advocate for Maori; and top mountain bikers The Kennett Brothers (Paul and twins Simon and Jonathan), who have been instrumental in the development of the sport.

Specially commissioned, life-size photographs of each person also form part of the display. The photographer for the latest series was James Gilberd of Photospace Studio and Gallery.

Museum Director Paul Thompson says the Living Treasures series was prompted by a desire to make use of the collection in ways that would interest a wide range of visitors, as well as to highlight items that would not normally be on display.

‘Museum objects tell stories – and of course the wonderful thing is they tell different stories to different people,’ Paul says.

‘We decided to see what prominent Wellingtonians from a number of different spheres would make of the collection. They have responded in an amazing variety of ways, choosing objects for their cultural, historical, aesthetic or personal values.

‘Our 18 “living treasures” have also acted as representatives from the literary, arts, business, professional, medical and sporting communities and therefore introduced the Museum to those communities.’

Exhibition Curator Karen Wheeler says working with the participants to choose items from the collection was a great experience.

‘Some of them, particularly those who hadn’t experienced the Museum before, weren’t really sure what to expect – so it was a real eye-opener for them. However, it’s fair to say that everyone really enjoyed themselves.

‘From our point of view, it was fascinating to see the collection through other people’s eyes, as the connections that we make as curators and museum staff are often very different.’

Accompanying the latest Living Treasures will be an interactive display, Treasures?, designed to stimulate discussion on what is trash and what is treasure.

The Exhibition is supported with funding from the New Zealand Community Trust.

The Museum of Wellington City & Sea is managed by the Wellington Museums Trust with major funding from the Wellington City Council.

Photos available on request, please attribute James Gilberd For more information contact Brett Mason Phone 04-496 1947 Email

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