This is how it looks from the outside – have you been inside yet? You might imagine, if you are new to Russell that this museum is here as an attraction for visitors to our village. Wrong. It is here for you. Our mission statement is to preserve the history and heritage of Russell/ Kororāreka and environs. We are adding, in 2014, another layer to this : Ngā taonga tuku iho nō ngā tūpuna ki ā tātou tamariki. It is for our children as well.
Our museum opened on Christmas Eve 1956 as the Russell Centennial Museum. Following later renovations, the donation of a Ralph Sewell built Endeavour 1:5 scale model and funding from South British Insurance, we became the Captain Cook Memorial Museum. In 2013, under the umbrella of the Russell Centennial Trust Board, we are Russell Museum – Te Whare Taonga o Kororāreka. We are sited on land which was once part of Rewa’s kainga, donated to the Trust by later owners, the C.F.Baker family. The Trust property incorporates our library; the original library trust contributed financially to the building fund. The rest of the funds were raised by the Kororāreka Centennial Committee and Russell people to be used in… erecting a public building…to mark the centenary of the foundation of the town of Russell… and generally to work for the advancement and progress of the Russell Town District…and the general welfare of The Inhabitants of the District “. We continue to honour that aim by supporting the library and offering free museum admission to “The Inhabitants “. That’s you. Please come and visit us; bring your children and your (paying) visitors. If we don’t recognise you please introduce yourself – we are here for you and we look forward to meeting you. And don’t forget to check out our gift shop as Xmas approaches.
Russell Museum operates as a charitable trust. We receive no council or government funding other than occasional grants. Admission fees and shop profits enable us to employ staff to sustain the museum building and collections. As a charity we do not aim to make a profit and for the last two years we have run at a loss. Accumulated funds have covered this so far. We aim to break even and are hoping for an economic upturn soon. Donations are welcome and are tax deductible.
So what do we do here? In our last financial year we hosted around 18,000 visitors. So far this year we have added almost 300 news clippings and close to 200 objects to our archives and collection. We received grants and donations to help us repair and paint the library ceiling, landscape the Walker Passage and upgrade our computers, collect oral histories and make various purchases: a datalogger to record relative humidity and temperature levels in the display and storage areas; four Pauline and James Yearbury panels – Tawhirimatea, Maraki-hau, Hinemoana & Tangaroa; a new display case. For these gifts we acknowledge and thank Russell Ratepayers and Citizens Association Inc., Lion Foundation, Museum of NZ Te Papa, FNDC amenity funds and a donor who wishes to remain anonymous
Our temporary exhibition space – the Marie King Gallery – was the venue for three different displays in 2013. Three Collectors, over last summer, was a chance for descendants and visitors to view the collections of Stan Adamson, C.F. Baker and Edmund Lane. This was followed by Recent Acquisitions, our chance to show off our new Yearbury panels, Rev Charles Baker’s 1828 Pembroke table and taonga tūturu lodged here by the Kororāreka Marae Society. From now until the end of January is our photograph exhibition, Look Twice, with selected Stephen Western, Ian Hanlon and collection prints available for sale.
Best wishes for the festive season to you all from the team at the museum.
Ngā mihi mahana ki a koutou, Shelley Arlidge (Curator ) Dianne Davey (Administrator) Heather Stone, Lynette Cooper, Barb Elboz (Reception), Clive Arlidge (Kaumatua). Trustees: Heather Lindauer (Chairperson), Ailsa Murray, Barrie Bell, Bernard Woodcock, Eldon Jackson, Libby Magnusson, Rosamund Scoffham, Stephen Western, Terry Greening.