Memories mark museum milestone

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It describes itself as one of New Zealand’s best small museums, and with good reason. As Lakes District Museum notches up a big birthday, Daisy Hudson talks to those behind the scenes about its colourful history

It’s been graced by everyone from the Queen to foreign diplomats, undergone moves and major expansions.

Now, in the latest addition to its archives, the Arrowtown institution that is the Lakes District Museum is marking 70 years of informing, and celebrating, the Queenstown Lakes area.

The museum was established in 1948 as a Centennial of Otago project, museum boss David Clarke says.

It started life in the billiard rooms of the Ballarat Hotel before shifting to its current home, the former Bank of New Zealand building, in 1955.

Queen Elizabeth II at the museum in 1990 PICTURE: LAKES DISTRICT MUSEUM

“It was put in old sample rooms as part of the old Ballarat Hotel at the end of the street, so it was a tiny little room, and I think people from around the district were encouraged to donate objects, and that started the museum,” Clarke says.

“I think they got flooded with objects, and we’ve still got shelves full of those objects that came in, in 1948, and we’ve been collecting ever since.

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daisy.hudson@scene.co.nz