JANM Perseverance Shige 1201
Collection & Special Exhibition

Behind the Tattooists' Art

Traditional Japanese tattooing traces its origins to ukiyo-e, an art form which developed more than 400 years ago in Japan’s theatre and brothel districts. Canterbury Museum holds about 500 uyiko-e artworks in the collection, with a handful on display in the Asian Arts Gallery. Read more about ukiyo-e and the story behind the tattoos in our special exhibition Perseverance: Japanese Tattoo Tradition in a Modern World, on until 13 August 2017.

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Body Beautiful

Canterbury Museum has recently acquired a small gold and pounamu locket which links Christchurch to a pioneer of the body beautiful movement, Eugen Sandow (1867–1925). Sandow was an extremely effective self-promoter and images like these taken in 1894 helped liberalise people's attitudes to displaying the human body.

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His Master's Voice

An album of photographs in Canterbury Museum’s collection taken by Herbert Ponting holds some of the most iconic images of the heroic age of Antarctic exploration. It also records day-to-day life on the frozen subcontinent and some more whimsical moments.


Selling the Dream

Selling the Dream is a collection of world-class tourism posters promoting New Zealand’s unique attractions in an age before television and the Internet. Created by some of the country’s finest commercial artists, the themes promoted through the posters reveal New Zealand’s developing national identity in the early twentieth century.

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Stoddart Cottage

The original cottage built by early Canterbury settler Mark Stoddart (1819-1885) at Diamond Harbour has recently been restored. It's been open at weekends between 10.00 am and 4.00 pm in May, so there's still a chance to see it.

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Natural History

Coast New Zealand

If you’re a fan of katipo spiders, watch out for Museum Curator Natural History Cor Vink in Coast New Zealand on TV One at 8.00 pm Monday night. The segment was filmed at a local stronghold for katipo spiders, Kaitorete Spit, the long finger of land that separates Lake Ellesmere from the Pacific Ocean. 

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Drum Beats of the Past

This drum, adorned with dancing figures, would have been used to set the rhythm for hula chants and dances. For Hawai’ians hula is more than just entertainment – it is a sacred experience originally developed as a way to honour the gods.

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Dead as a Dodo?

The Dodo was a flightless pigeon endemic to Mauritius in the western Indian Ocean. It became extinct within 100 years of the island's discovery, hunted by sailors and invasive animal species. The last widely accepted sighting of a Dodo was in 1662.

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Handmade in Papua New Guinea

Visit any marketplace in Papua New Guinea and your eye will immediately be drawn to brightly-coloured string bags, locally referred to as bilums.

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Māori at Tuahiwi

Check out the He Waka Eke Noa exhibition at Christchurch Art Gallery which includes objects on loan from Canterbury Museum.

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Fishy Tale

In 1926 the Canterbury Club on Oxford Terrace had a visitor turn up who was definitely not on the members list. 

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Musical Instrument?

We're trying find out more about this plosive aerophone, or slap tube, which was picked up in Central Africa during the 1869 expedition to find British explorer Livingstone who'd disappeared while searching for the source of the Nile. Can you help?

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1970s Chic

This colourful coat was worn by Mrs Felicity Aitken at a garden party in Christchurch in 1970. The garden party was in honour of Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Philip, Prince Charles and Princess Anne. The royal visitors were in New Zealand to mark the bicentenary of the discovery of New Zealand by Captain James Cook. 

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Polar Flag

Brown and threadbare, this fragment is from a flag erected at the South Pole on 17 January 1912. A poignant keepsake from Scott's ill-fated British Antarctic Expedition (1910–1913) it is part of the Museum’s world-renowned collection from the heroic age of Antarctic exploration and discovery. 

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Special Exhibition

Pioneering Aviator

Tourism and aviation pioneer Rodolph ('Wigs') Wigley wore a long leather flying coat with a fur-lined flying helmet to keep warm in unheated aircraft. Wigley, founder of Mt Cook Airlines, was a passenger on many pioneering flights including the first flight from Invercargill to Christchurch. 

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Fancy Dress?

This magnificent Elizabethan-style fancy dress was worn by Mrs Lucy Ellen Sykes Studholme to a ball at Government House in the 1870s. 

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