Strolling down Museum Street

Amongst the many events happening this weekend during Wellington’s 150th birthday is the official unveiling of a plaque (below).

Hector and Colonial Museum plaque, 23 July 2015. Photo by Kirstie Ross

Hector and Colonial Museum plaque, 23 July 2015. Photo by Kirstie Ross

The plaque commemorates 150 years since the founding of Te Papa’s predecessor, the Colonial Museum, and the role of James Hector in setting up and running the museum, amongst many other things. (Hector was an amazing scientific and administrative multi-tasker and you can find out more about his many roles on the Te Papa website.)

I’m helping out with the ‘Behind the Scenes’ birthday event at Te Papa, so I’ll miss this historic event. To make up for it, I strolled down Museum Street yesterday to take a sneak peak at the plaque. I don’t want to give away its exact location until it’s been officially unveiled – but here are some clues to where you can find it (which is near the Colonial Museum’s original site).

If the museum were still in Museum Street, visitors today would get this view of the Beehive’s backside.

View from former site of Colonial Museum. Photo by Kirstie Ross

View from former site of Colonial Museum. Photo by Kirstie Ross

This 1930s view from Hill Street shows the museum’ original location, on the corner of Bowen and Museum Streets (right, with lawn in front).

Museum Street about 1930, Negatives of the Evening Post newspaper. Alexander Turnbull Library 1/2-088250-G

Museum Street about 1930, Negatives of the Evening Post newspaper. Alexander Turnbull Library 1/2-088250-G

I took a photo from near the same spot, as a comparison (below). The Terrace is in the middle distance but trees along on Hill Street obscure the view. Today, Museum Street is a ‘no exit’ parking precinct behind parliament buildings.

View of Museum Street from Hill Street, Thorndon, 23 July 2015. Photo by Kirstie Ross

View of Museum Street from Hill Street, Thorndon, 23 July 2015. Photo by Kirstie Ross

The Colonial Museum also moved with the times. In 1936, it relocated to new buildings on Buckle Street in Mount Cook, alongside the National Art Gallery. And then fifty-two years later, the two merged to open as Te Papa by the waterfront on Cable Street. That’s where you’ll find us today.

 

6 Responses

  1. Athol McCredie

    Thanks for digging out that c.1930 photo. I’ve never seen an image of the old museum in ‘modern’ times. When you can compare it with buildings and streets as they are now you get a very clear idea of exactly where it was located. (Well some of the buildings as they are now – that’s an amazing looking wooden building across the street – the Congregational Church? And is that Kelvin Chambers behind? The building doesn’t look like that now. Must have been the first ‘tower’ on the Terrace.)

    Reply
    • Kirstie

      Hi Athol
      Thanks for this. Te Papa also has a photo of the museum taken by Leslie Adkin from the 1930s which helps with orientation too. It is the Congregational Church on the corner of Bowen Street and The Terrace (no 71 on the map). I’d have to look on a street directory from the 1930s to see whether or not the ‘tower’ is the Kelvin Chambers.
      Kirstie

  2. Bill Wollerman

    I can remember being taken to this old Colonial Museum as a child – glad to see its existence is being recognised as my family have found it hard to believe that it existed!
    Margaret, wife of Bill, aged 85!

    Reply
    • Kirstie

      Thanks for your response Margaret. I wonder if there are others who have recollections of the museum when it was over in Museum Street.

      Kirstie

  3. Adele Pentony-Graham

    Hope its a great day tomorrow for Wellington’s 150th… look forward to the feedback!

    Reply
    • Kirstie

      Thanks Adele – we’re all looking forward to it.

      Kirstie

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