WANGANUI PUBLIC MUSEUM
■ * NATURE'S TREASURE HOUSE. Wednesday next, the 17th of October, 1894, will be an occasion worthy of a niche in the historical panel of our district, for on that day the Wanganui Museum will be nominally opened. We say nominally, because as our readers are awaro the official opening will not take place until early next year. Until then the building will be open to visitors at stated regular intervals, and a small charge will be made for admission. That oven this nominal opening is an event worthy of being recorded mußt be admitted : it is due to any object or movement that has for its aim the education of the people, that its inception should be marked as an epoch. The term " Museum " has long since been almost exclusively appropriate il to collections of the monuments of antiquity and other things interesting to thescholar and man of science. Nothing analogus to the museums of modern times existed amongst the ancients, the greatest collections of statutes and paintings which were made in tho houses of the wealthy Romans having been intended for eplendour rather than for the promotion of art. The name soon ceased to be limited to groups of sculptures aDd paintingß and antiquities ; collections illustrative of natural history and other sciences now form a chief part of the treasures of the world's greatest museums. The usefulness of such, an institution depends, not merely upon the amount of its treasures, but perhaps even in a greater degreoe upon their proper arrangement and classification; and here it is that our local museum will sat an example to others of a more pretentious nature. We have had the privilege of noting from time to time its progress towards completion, and on each successive occasion have been better please j. That the general excellence of the Wanganui Museum— based on a valuable and comprehensive collection of exhibits, classified and arranged on the most'artißtic and yet practical systemwill (surprise the public we have no doubt, and the surprise cannot but be heightened when it is considered that what is seen is the splendid result of one man's labour. As wo are confident tV>at' there iB not another town of the size of Wanganui, south .of the line, that can boast * better museum, so also are we confident that it would be difficult to find one other man.whoßinglehanded.couldhaveattainfid alike success. Thero are specialists in every branch, some of whom tn their own particular hobbies would doubtless be found to excel Mr S. H. Drew— for it is he to whom we allude— but there are few if any who could equal him m such, an all-round knowledge as he certainly must possess to have enabled him to deal bo intelligently with all the various sections. Mammals, birds, fishes, shells, minerals, in fact all the wonders of nature, seem alike to him, and eaoh and all have been treated, classified and arranged in a manner that must redound to his credit. The first thought that will strike the visitor on entering will be " How tasteful; what a delightful offect I " And the thought will be well deserved, for taste and effect are undeniably'in evidence. Standing at the arched entrance^ tefore stepping in for the moro serious task of inspection, the visitor will become conscious of a peculiar, fascination and a desire to look at everything at once. Right at his feet tno huge seals, in the immediate rear of a green turtle, seem to grin him a welcome, but his eyes have not time to stop, and instantly piss on, comprehending in their flight the somewhat ghastly body guard of the silent sentinels; skeletons galore, including those of whales and of moas, of fish and of animals, appropriately grouped in the centre of the room and surrounded by a neat iron railing, are noticed, until the attention ia arrested by tlio very attractive back-ground at the further end of tho room. Here, above the well-arranged cases of mammals, antiquities, and other exhibits, is the full-sized front of a Maori whare-puni, complete in every detail, and with two beautifully modelled figures— a man and a woman— standing in the foreground. Ihese are the work of Mr. Huddleston, the well-known »rtist, and in Ihpin he reveals the fundamental quality of the ecu ptor— a proper regard for nature. The figures are very natural, and the wahine,who carries her pickaninny on her back in the orthodox fashion, seems to pull with apparent relish at a venerable pipe. All this, as well as a glimpse of the treasures in the side bays, can be taken in at a glance, but it is when the visitor following out a natural impulse proceeds to investigate, minutely that the greatest satisfaction iB gained. Let him commence at the right hand side on entering and he will find himself looking upon a multitude of New Zealand fishes, of all sorts and. sizes kinds and colours ; and then, continuing his inspection, he will visit in turn the birds of tho colony, in equal variety ; the Bhells and tho minerals, and will conclude his sojourn in, the New Zealand department by examining with' interest a large number of old Maori weaponsj implements, and curios. He will now have reached the cases under the wh»re-puni where ho will find interest respectively in relics of heathen mythology, specimens of the monkey tribe, a formidable looking lioness, and a wonderful variety of exhibits from all parts'of the world. Returning to the entranco by the left hand side he will find everything distinctly loreign to New Zealand. Minerals, mammals, birds, all are from other coun- ' tries. What prettier eight than this beautiful collection of birds ? From the lordly oaglo to tho tiniest of tiny humming birds, all aro here, and grouped as tliey are, form a galaxy of splendour. The plumage of many of tho specimens is magnificiontt all tho colours of the rainbow are represented. Hero everything is natural. The stuffed representatives of the feathered tribes are not packed with provoking regularity on rows of monotonous shelves, but on tho contrary are to be seen poising on branches, squatting on rocks, or sitting in nests as natutally ac though they were freo and unfettered inhabitants of, thoir natural element. Even the chicks, ' tho baby birdies, are at Home, and may be seen looking coyly from under tho mother bird or perched impertinently on her back, Beforo passing out the visitor must glance Ground once more, note tho carvings "artistically displayed above and about the .cases, and finally "the very prsity Bambjft mats and Maori war Sag above the door. On Wednerday the public will hayr? on opportunity of judging of tbe excollone9 of tho institution, and will, we feel sure, bo satisfied that in no instanco havo wo ojsaggorated its merits.
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WANGANUI PUBLIC MUSEUM, Wanganui Chronicle, Volume XXXVIII, Issue 12120, 15 October 1894
WANGANUI PUBLIC MUSEUM Wanganui Chronicle, Volume XXXVIII, Issue 12120, 15 October 1894
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