MAVtech, Foxton's museum of audio-visual technology, is starting a project to showcase 100 'treasures' from its vast collection.

With funding from a Helping Hands grant from Te Papa, Toni Edmeades, a highly qualified and experienced museum professional, will draw together the collection of specialist items with a draft list planned by the end of the year.

Anthony Lewis, chairman of the MAVtech Trust, says he is delighted they have secured the services of Edmeades.

"Her experience includes a research consultant to the NZ Rugby Museum; registrar at Tauranga Art Gallery; museum technician at the Sir James Fletcher Kawerau Museum; and most recently collections manager (Art) at Te Manawa in Palmerston North," he said.

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It is hoped that this work will provide the basis for evaluating the significance of items in the collection and to develop an accession register template.

An old slide stored at the MAVtech Museum in Foxton.
An old slide stored at the MAVtech Museum in Foxton.

The significance of an object is measured by its "provenance (known history), rarity or representativeness, condition of completeness and interpretative capacity".

It will be quite a task to identify just one hundred items from the huge amount of feature films, radios, cameras, TVs and sound equipment.

Museum manager Jim Harper and wife Sarah, who is secretary of the MAVtech Trust, have some of their personal favourites up for consideration.

Jim Harper with a Forest and Bird slide at MAVtech.
Jim Harper with a Forest and Bird slide at MAVtech.

Jim Harper delights in demonstrating the use of the wooden sound box, used in radio shows for sound effects like doors, lids shutting and walking up a gravel path.

Another treasure is the Native Bird Protection Society – later Forest and Bird Society - roadshow slides in a little wooden box from the 1920s.

Members of the national bird protection agency would show these slides in village halls and cinemas around the country to educate the public on how to maintain our native bird species in New Zealand.

"Without television in those days, there would be queues forming of people flocking to see these slideshows," he said.

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Sarah Harper tries on the icecream stall for size and admits, without the icecreams even loaded, it still weighs "half a ton" but it is a charming reminder of the good old days of cinema.

Sarah Harper with a Frosty Jack Ice Cream stand at MAVtech in Foxton.
Sarah Harper with a Frosty Jack Ice Cream stand at MAVtech in Foxton.

There are some glorious glass advertising plates (slides) featuring businesses in Foxton, which were shown before the main movie starts, such as the one advertising fresh fruit and veges from Chung Wah Bros at 37 Main St.

Although the greengrocers shop has long gone, the building with Chung Wah Bros lettering over the front still exists.

There are different artefacts all over the museum reflecting the hey days of cinema, not least the impressive 35mm and 16mm carbon arc projectors which are used at Cine Night held on the last Friday of the month to show old advertisements, shorts and a movie from the past.

Under Covid-19 level 2, the museum housed in the Coronation Hall, Avenue Rd, Foxton, is currently not open to the public.

Some of the film reels at MAVtech.
Some of the film reels at MAVtech.

The 1927 Coronation Hall operated as a cinema until the 1970s when Peter Edwards, who founded MAVtech rescued the building.

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The MAVtech collection includes some five million feet of old film reels and an estimated 100,000 records in vinyl and shellac, plus Edison cylinder records and other types, all still playable.