Collecting and Exhibiting the Canterbury Earthquakes

Murray, S. Collecting and Exhibiting the Canterbury Earthquakes, paper presented at the Curating Under Pressure Conference, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, 5 – 8 November 2015.

Catholic Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament bell at Quake City

Catholic Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament bell at Quake City.

Drawing on an international literature surrounding the collecting of material culture following disruptive events, this paper examined the process behind Canterbury Museum’s earthquake collecting and exhibitions. It touched on the ways in which museum curators identified which stories to tell and the methods used to engage with the wider community to ensure activities were socially responsible and satisfied a public need.

It also considered the ethics of collecting and exhibiting by focusing, in particular, on the momento mori or objects of remembrance left at sites of significance in the city. In conclusion, it reflected on the value of these displays and the contribution of both the collections and the series of exhibitions to a community in recovery.