NZ Rugby Museum’s collection shows off
11 Aug 2011
New Zealand’s rich rugby heritage has a new 21st century face with the reopening of the NZ Rugby Museum, in Palmerston North, today (11.08.11).
The NZ$2 million upgrade has given the museum a prime location in a purpose-built gallery designed to do justice to the singular and priceless collection of rugby memorabilia.
The gallery, which is located in the Te Manawa cultural complex in downtown Palmerston North, was unveiled by museum president and former All Black Sir Brian Lochore.
With Rugby World Cup looming and a flood of rugby fans heading this way, the Rugby Museum is expecting to attract a large number of international visitors during the tournament.
Palmerston North is set to host two Rugby World Cup matches, and more than 50 events have been planned in the Manawatu region during the tournament.
Ball, boot and bag
Founded in 1969, the museum collection has grown to more than 40,000 heritage items - including curiosities such as an 1882 puntabout ball, a 1950s square-toed boot, and a 2011 tackle bag - telling the story of Kiwi rugby.
Amongst the exhibits are New Zealand Rugby’s Rare XV - 15 rare and precious symbols of New Zealand’s rugby heritage, including the country’s oldest All Blacks jersey from 1905.
The collection is said to be unmatched in the rugby world, and museum director Stephen Berg says the new exhibition space has moved it from the traditional ‘sports museum’ environment onto a contemporary playing field.
The old-style static displays of rugby jerseys and caps, photographs and other memorabilia have been replaced with new interactive and multimedia elements, designed to educate and entertain. The new exhibition incorporates recordings, technology and interactive displays.
Kiwi rugby culture
The re-location aimed to generate further excitement and enthusiasm for the sport, and engage visitors with the many and varied connections the sport has with Kiwi culture, Berg said.
"It’s also designed to provide a ‘minds, hands, feet and body-on’ taste of many aspects of the game and be more inviting and accessible to the public," Berg said.
The museum is divided into four sections - Rugby Relics, Have a Go, Rugby Tribe and Discovery Library.
Rugby Relics is a short decade-by-decade history of nearly everything pertaining to the game and its links to New Zealand, displayed in 15 cabinets overflowing with evocative memorabilia.
"Each cabinet has its own theme and that comes through in the way the stories are told and how the items are linked together," Berg said.
Three displays recall rugby’s ‘ancient beginnings’, ‘early settlement’ and ‘English roots’, and tell the story of how rugby and New Zealand helped shape each other.
Have a Go
The enclosed Have a Go section in the centre of the gallery will attract younger and adventurous enthusiasts keen to pit their rugby skills against five inter-active features.
Behind protective netting, participants can kick, tackle, sprint, jump and push without endangering other viewers in the gallery.
This area was likely to be a real feature with its challenging apparatus, green floor carpet and wonderful lighting, Berg said.
"The miniature floodlights in each corner replicate what it’s like playing night rugby and lift the attraction to a different level."
The two other sections - Rugby Tribe and Discovery Library - will further illustrate how rugby, woven into New Zealand culture for nearly 150 years, has become a national passion.
Rugby Tribe will feature different exhibitions on a rotating basis, while the Discovery Library - accessed by arrangement only - houses rare rugby books, clippings, manuscripts, scrapbooks, match records, statistics, programmes, club histories and magazines.
Stephen Berg is delighted at how the project has come together and believes the finished "world class" gallery will be better than he ever envisaged.
"The attention to detail and time spent on each cabinet, for example, has turned them into design masterpieces," he said.
Background: Te Manawa - NZ Rugby Museum
The New Zealand Rugby Museum is located in the Te Manawa complex, in Palmerston North’s central business area - within walking distance of shops and many visitor accommodations.
The museum is open Monday to Saturday, 10am - 12pm / 1:30pm - 4pm, and Sunday, 1.30pm - 4pm.
New Zealand Rugby Museum fields rare 1st XV
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