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WANGANUI PUBLIC MUSEUM.

A Visit to the New Building. I Presuming that anything pertaining to the Wanganui Public Mueeum is of general interest to the reader, and remembering that the new building is very 6hortly to bo formally opened, we paid a risit to the institution yesterday, baing fortunate in finding Mr 8. H. Drew there, for it is within our knowledge that the curator, although heart and soul in museum matters, only takes up | suob. -work ■when, the day's business is finished. A cordial greeting, a few words of explanation, and while we are awaiting our guide, attention ia arrested by the generally neat appearance of the hall, and the artistic arrangement of the cases in the different baye, to say nothing of the adornment of the walls. The visitor must be iinpreaaed, too, from the very outset that here is something to look at which will not only tend to while away a spare hour, but to tho young, especially, it will be a means of practical education in many essentials not to be obtained by poring over the very best books extant Our feelings were of surprise and wonder — surprise that bo much hud been done, knowing that Mr Drew has only the help of his sons, and wooder as to whore all tho beautiful exhibits had come from. The Museum has been divided into halves, as it were— one on the western side being devoted entirely to New Zealand specimens, and the other — or eastern side — to those foreign to this country. From the main entrance, tho exhibits have a very pleasing effect, the large silver seal near the door almost asking visitors to enter. Then, peeping out from under the protection of this carnivorous mammal, is a specimen of the time-honored turtle, found at New Plymouth, and purchased by a Wanganui syndicate with the object of providing some prime soup — how that syndicate did smnok their lips in anticipation to be sure ; but — well — perhaps it is iust as well hew to draw the curtain for a moment while we ponder on the quotation commencing " Things are seldom what they seem !" But, to resume. Passing to the western 3idß, we note the New Zealand fiah cases, and really we had no idea there were so many different piscatorial varieties in this colony. The specimens are tastefully arranged on light blue boards, these being shown up effectually by the chocolate tinted hacks of the caßes. Amongst the fishes we observed a Pacific Tunny, the New Zealand Brill, a huge hapuka (some 961bs in weight), Drew's Perch (named aftor the Director), aad many others that interest us much. Next we come to the cases of New Zealand birds, and here the species seem also to be well represented, including tho extinct quail, the stitch bird, North Island thrush, kiwi, and many others that are nearly gone. But a few more years, we think, and no doubt the stoats and weasels will have seen the end of many of our commoner birds. Still working our way round, we come to two cases of bones and skeletons of moas, New Zealand birdß, etc. One moa seemed to be vory complete, the column of tracheal rings showing, moreover, how wonderfully even these fragile bones had been preserved, and, in noticing that tho bones were presented to the Museum by Mr Moore, of Wangaehu, we remember that it is not so very long ago this specimen found its grave in the shifting sandß of our coast. Another interesting exhibit in this case are some fragments of moa eggshell, the very first found in this colony at Waingongoro by the Hon. Mr Mantell in 1847. But we must not dwell too long hero, and so, passing on, wo look at the New Zealand molusca, Crustacea, etc., and then come to a splendid collection of Maori things, such as carvings in green and other stones, bone and wood fishing appliances, huge copper fishhooks (no doubt from some burnt or wrecked vessel), fish nets, baskets, dresses, mats, and Maori weapons and implements of all sorts, to say nothing of hundreds of stone axes, adzes, and chisols, of all shapes, Making up a collection that but few of us have tho privilege of criticising. We have now reached the end of the western Bide, and on looking back, notice that the tops ot the cases are decorated with canoe heads, also grotesque carved wood figuros large in size and ropulaive in ugliuees, the glinting light from their pawa shell eyei all the more assisting that creepy uncanny fooling onu often has amongßt the bones and specimens of a museum. The cases at the south-end are of two kinds — tho upright ones devoted to representatives ot mammal lif e.aid those of table formation to ethnolo • gical specimens from different parts of the globe. We noticed many old wonders from tho Land of Ecy pt, collected by Mossrs Henry Serjeant, and J. L. Stovendon; prt.historic tool » und weapons in flint and bronze, fnm tho Danish Iblcs (Zealand in particular), this valuablo collection being presented by Mr G. 8. Robertson ; and how strikingly similar wo think they are in make and Bhape to tho Now Zoaland ones, yet tinio and place so widely separated. On the eastern side we find geological cases containing some lovely mineral specimens ; then on again wo see fossils — echinoderme, large crabs and lobsters, and little shrimps; after this, wo stand in front of the cases containing the foreign birds. Pausing awhilo, we remark on the wonderful color?, gorgeous tints, and singular forms — the toucans with beaks almost as largo as their bodies, — brilliantly colored in pinks, purples, yellows, blues, and blacks ; the tropical trogons with their lengthy tail plumes and gorgeous plumage ; pheasants, flamingoes, humming birds — all seem to be painted from nature's very beat color box There bird cases are far from full, but we noticed many specimens awaiting operation in the " surgical " room, «o that, with what the Director has coming, we Bhall in time see tho spaces filled up. Near the end of the eastern side is a specimen of a iarge emu, and in these cases are the birds of tho Australian region, such as parrots, lyre birds, hawks, eagles, etc , — all lovely and beautiful in tint and plumage. Coming back to the entrance wo pass the foreign fish case, but not before wo have noticed a very pretty group from Hamoa, comprising about 50 specimens and representing the coral feeders o£ that island. These fish were sent to the Museum by Mr Allen, and being mounted by the Director and his sons, form a very pleasing addition to tho collection. The centre of the hall has beon railed off, and inside this rail we notice heads and skeletons of whales, moas, and otter animals, recognising also the pigmy sperm whale stranded a little while ago on the Wanganui beach, purchased by Br Tripe, and piesented by him to the Museum. The above is a short account of the re1 suit of our visit, and will brobably give our readers an idea of the contents and arrangement of the local Museum. The formal opening is announced for some time next month, when we propose going carefully through the collection and writing more fully thereon. In the meantime we wish to congratulate the townspeople on possessing such an institution in their midst one indeed that in tho near future will bo counted amongst the town's attractions; and also are we sure that the subscribers will always feel pleased they assisted in its inauguration. We cannot conclude without giving a word of praise to the Committee who have very successfully brought matters so near a fitting termination. To Mr Drew, the indefatigable curator, the greatest credit is due, for with, untiring energy he has worked both night aud day outside of his business hours. This is an interesting hobby of hia, but no one knows or will know what it means ; the contents of the Wanganui Museum, though, will ever stand as a memento of long and patient toil altogether unaided except by the help of his young sons.

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https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/WH18940404.2.11

Bibliographic details

WANGANUI PUBLIC MUSEUM., Wanganui Herald, Volume XXVIII, Issue 8440, 4 April 1894

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WANGANUI PUBLIC MUSEUM. Wanganui Herald, Volume XXVIII, Issue 8440, 4 April 1894

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