Auckland Museum unveils 'weird and wonderful' treasures

By Victoria Cotterell

Five year old Eva Josephs comes face to face with Basil at Auckland Museum. Photo / Krzysztof Pfeiffer
Five year old Eva Josephs comes face to face with Basil at Auckland Museum. Photo / Krzysztof Pfeiffer

Guided tours of the 'Weird and Wonderful' treasures hiding in Auckland Museum have begun this week, led by the museum's resident dinosaur Basil.

The tours take in the items that have fascinating back-stories but are rarely viewed.

They include meteors, aged tonsils, and the rare tusked weta.

The tours are a tie-in with the popular 'Weird and Wonderful' section of the museum, curator Brian Gill said.

"We just opened the refurbished Weird and Wonderful children's gallery, so we wanted to build on that."

The gallery, located in the Stevenson Discovery Centre, is a hands-on space dedicated to the beauty of the natural world, he said.

"The name says it all really. It's where children can come along with their parents and be astounded by natural history.

"It's about amazing stuffed birds, and beautiful butterflies, and strange insects. It's all about wonder, and amazing things in nature."

The tours, in contrast, seek out the items a visitor might normally miss when wandering through the museum.

Tour guide Saraid Cameron, who assists dinosaur Basil in leading the tours, said she received a wonderful reaction from those who have taken the tour so far.

Though some might imagine a Barney-style dinosaur, she said Basil is an extremely believable Dryosaur, or tree lizard.

"The way he moves is really convincing. When the kids first see him walking down the corridor, they're just amazed."

She said some children were scared of Basil at first, but soon warmed up to him as the tour progressed.

"Some of the adults are scared of him too, when he's just walking though the gallery and they don't know there's a dinosaur there."

Kara Pugh, mum to Andrew, said the tours are a great way to teach children about the Museum's collection.

"Andrew loves dinosaurs and he's really into learning so this is a really great combination for him.

"He's absolutely captivated by what's happening here today. [Basil] really does look real and it moves the way you would expect the real thing to move."

The tours will run twice every weekday until February 1.

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