Watch the slide show or click your way through it. Images here represent the contributions to date from Tauranga's Heritage Collection
The background to a Museum in Tauranga
In 1873, a glass case to act as a ‘nucleus for a museum’ was installed in the town’s Mechanic Institute, a place of learning and entertainment. Disastrously, in May 1881 the Institute was lost in a fire, which destroyed a significant portion of the town and cost £35,000.
Undeterred, artefacts continued to be collected and displayed in a new building. In 1882 a large art and history exhibition included 100 taonga from Captain Gilbert Mair’s collection. Sadly, no permanent home for such treasures eventuated and in 1906 the Mechanics Institute was handed over to the Borough Council, and it's name changed to the Tauranga Public Library. The Mair Collection is now held by Auckland Museum.
In 1938 an exhibition was displayed in the Town Hall. The Bay of Plenty Times reported that it was an excellent collection of material. However, with the outbreak of WW2 the space in the Hall was needed and the collection was packed up and secured away in its internal walls, presumably to protect it from enemy invasion. It remained hidden until 1959 when objects were either given to Auckland Museum or returned to donors. Concerned that the town’s heritage was being destroyed, in 1969 the Tauranga Historical Society approached the Council for support to open a museum. The Society provided a list of objects proving that there was a need for a museum and the Council agreed giving them a building on the corner of Hamilton and Durham Streets. The city’s museum collection was born.
This museum proved so successful that the collection quickly outgrew the site and in 1975 the Tauranga Historic Village and District Museum was opened at the bottom of 17th Avenue. With the support of the community, the collection grew rapidly and ownership was transferred to the Council. However, in 1998 it was decided to close the village and place the collection into storage in anticipation of a new museum opening in 2002.
The collection has been in storage for the past 20 years and work on it continues. There are regular attempts to provide the community with access to the collection through schools and community groups.
1873 First recorded museum collection on display at Mechanics Institute, Harington Street 1881 Disaster strikes - the Institute and collection are destroyed by fire 1882 Museum exhibition opens, including 100 Taonga from Captain Gilbert Mair 1906 Mechanics Institute becomes a public library 1938 Collection on display in Town Hall, Willow Street 1941 Collection goes into hiding during WWII 1969 New museum opens on the corner of Durham and Hamilton Streets 1975 Collection expands at Tauranga Historic Village and District Museum 1998 Collection goes into storage - where it remains to this day 2019 The Heritage Collection turns 50