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Exhibition Celebrates Personal Treasures

A new exhibition inspired by a social media initiative launched during this year’s lockdown opens at Waikato Museum on 12 December.

When public venues had to close their doors due to COVID-19 restrictions, Waikato Museum called on its online community to create a virtual exhibition by sharing photos of their favourite items on social media using the hashtag #mywaikatomuseum.

Waikato Museum Director Cherie Meecham said the hashtag campaign presented an exciting opportunity to connect with the public in a creative and meaningful way during the pandemic.

“As the country went into lockdown, we asked people to share objects, artworks, photographs, posters or documents that meant something special to them,” she said.

“The social media open call struck a chord with our community and proved to be so popular that we decided to showcase some of these items and personal stories attached to them in the #mywaikatomuseum exhibition, which opens this Saturday.”

Curator Nadia Gush said the hashtag campaign helped to keep the digital doors of Waikato Museum open to the public during lockdown.

“The pandemic has been a defining moment of our time, with museums and galleries all over the world striving to engage quarantined audiences through digital initiatives,” she said.

“With the limitations of lockdown, we rose to the challenge and provided people with an inclusive outlet for their stories and an opportunity to interact with us and each other. Waikato Museum exists beyond the walls – its real wealth is the community of people and their stories.”

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In a sector that thrives on in-person connection and on-site experience, #mywaikatomuseum bridges the gap between virtual and real exhibitions. It’s a collaborative and interactive project between Waikato Museum and the public, with both sides partaking in a dialogue about art and storytelling.

From miniature gold and silver versions of badges worn by New Zealand military regiments in World War I to treasured family heirlooms passed through generations, #mywaikatomuseum tells a captivating story through people’s most cherished objects.

Natasha Ryan submitted a brass candelabra used by her mother’s great-uncle to pass messages during World War I, while he was posing as a travelling podiatrist in the Middle East. “When I heard about Waikato Museum's callout, I thought this valued family possession would make a brilliant exhibit,” she said.

Waikato University Associate Professor Mark Houlahan submitted an Auckland Racing Club race book holder and race book dating back to December 1940. “These are taonga from my dad, who was a lifelong racing obsessive,” he said. “I feel it’s a unique piece of New Zealand ephemera about racing in the 1940s and a fine example of the local printing industry at the time.”

The free exhibition runs from 12 December 2020 until 5 April 2021, daily from 10am to 5pm.

On the banks of the Waikato River, in the heart of Hamilton's CBD, Waikato Museum's 13 galleries feature more than 25 new exhibitions and 100 public events annually.

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