The Whanganui Regional Museum is home to over 300,000 objects but which of those will have pride of place when the museum opens next month is yet to be revealed.

After a two-year strengthening project the museum has been through a major upheaval.

"Everything that was on show in the museum at the end of 2016 had to go out," said Director, Frank Stark. "With two exceptions which were the maihi for the entrance to the wharepuni, the meeting house and the large waka."

Although the sign on the door says closed, there's still plenty of work going on inside preparing one of the best museum collections in the country.


"When the museum was built, it was part of quite a small national network which included The Auckland War Museum, The National Museum, The Canturbury Museum, The Otago Museum - it was on that same kind of footing," Stark said.

At the time, Whanganui was a prosperous town with a busy port - and it was a tourist hotspot. The awa was dubbed "The Rhine of Maori Land" and museology was more about what you had rather than how you used it.

"Back in the day it was the objects that were important," said Collection Manager, Trish Nugent-Lyne. "So they just wanted to collect the objects but they didn't tell the stories behind them. But now we're more interested in using the object as a way of telling people stories."

Museum Kaitiaki, Awhina Twomey sees it as a challenge.

"Our taonga - if they can help to tell these stories, Institutes need to be brave enough to say it, not candy coat it," she said.

The museum also provides a valuable resource to the public.

"We've got newspapers back to 1856 with the first Waanganui Chronicle published," said Archivist, Sandi Black. "We've got business records, personal records, family records, books, diaries, maps and plans... thousands and thousands of negatives and photos.

Despite growing anticipation, the museum remains tight-lipped about exactly what will be on display in its new gallery. Visitors will be able find out for themselves when it re-opens next month.


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