Posted on by Mel Adams
Once again I found myself sitting at my desk and feeling a bit restless. Blame it on the lack of sunshine, moonlight, good times or lack of boogie, or whatever. I decided to make a dash and escape the clocktower. This time I didn’t want to go it alone so I dragged Katherine with me (aka submissions lady to you) I took Donald’s advice and headed to the Hocken Collections where Katherine Milburn took us for a tour. Man there is some brialliant stuff there.
After dodging the many football fans heading to the stadium to watch the footie we made it to the Hocken. Formerly the Otago Dairy Co-operative Company the Hocken Collections has bounced round campus a bit over the years (oldies will know that the Richardson building was first and foremost the Hocken building) before setting up shop here and an impressive shop it is. The reason for all the moves – space my dear friends. There are a lot of things in the Hocken Collections. A note hastily scribbled in my notebook reads fun facts like 10km of archive material, over 1 million images, 200,000 books. You get the picture there is a lot of awesome resource material living here.
So how did the Hocken Collections begin? The brain child behind the collection is Dr Thomas Morland Hocken (1836-1910) who settled in Dunedin from 1862 and collected like a mad thing – books, newspapers, maps, photos, artifacts and much more – all related to New Zealand, Pacific and early Austrialia. This is the basis of the Hocken collection. The awesome thing to note is that Dr Hocken used this material for his own research – as part of the tour we were shown his hand written notes on a poster he had collected. He was a very devoted man to his collecting
Dr Hocken’s reason for collecting is still a founding basis behind the Hocken collection today and it means that there is a wealth of interesting items within its walls. Hocken offered his collection to Dunedin and the people of NZ – based on this the Collections is open to both Uni folk and the general public ( a lot of folk including myself have used the Hocken for family research – check out these awesome research guides).
Katherine (our tour guide although the other Katherine would be very keen to help) is responsible for the Ephemera collection which started to become a focus of collecting from the mid 60s. The Ephemera collection is made up of things that in most cases we would think are rubbish that you throw away. However, Katherine views these items slightly differently. The premise behind the Ephemera collection is to provide a snap shot of our society at a given time. Best example, the little box filled with funeral programmes over the past 100 years. The earliest is a beautiful word press item, mid 70s is an old school typewritten version while those from the 21st century are often a collage of images and stories. It all tells a story about how society has changed over the years.
So as I hit my word limit on this little tale, I realise that this blog post is kinda like the Hocken Collections, there is a lot there to cover and not a lot of space for it all. There is so much awesome material to look at(often restricted due to its delicate nature but it is there), so why not pay a visit and take a tour (it’s got 4.5 out of 5 stars on Tripadvisor) or visit the latest exhibition . If you prefer to stay put you can always read Ka Taka Hakena: Treasures from the Hocken Collections or view some of the amazing images online via the Hakena Heritage collection or have a peek at the Hocken Snapshop to see what Dunedin was like in the olden days. They even have a blog!
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Posted on by Mel Adams
The awesome Scholarships Administrator, Mel Adams has been out and about again. This time she visited the Library’s Special Collections and spread her cray-cray pixie-dust around Central Library and came back with a spring in her step and a desire to cross-stitch a picture of the Dean for the office.
How long has it been since I have been in here? A year or two? Can I remember where it is? Up the first flight of stairs, ah, things are looking familiar. It’s round the corner. Is it? Not sure, just wander round there, ignore the studying students, pretend you know where you are going. Yes, there it is, I made it.
So where I am? I have decided to take a break from the shuffling of paper and pay a visit to the wonderful Special Collections at Central University Library and have a chat with the equally delightful and informative Donald Kerr.
So what is Special Collections? Why do we have this collection? Why is there a My Little Pony staring at me with those eyes? I was keen to learn more.
When I arrived, Donald was rather excited, they had just planned the schedule for exhibitions for 2016 which he very kindly shared with me. It looks fantastic. This prompted me to ask how he comes up with exhibitions ideas. It turns out a lot of the ideas come from folk round campus as well as a bit of daydreaming of ideas around material that is in the collection. This job sounds awesome – I love the idea of paid day dreaming <don’t even think about it, get back to your paper shuffling, Claire>.
The collection is made up of numerous collections (de Beer, Charles Brasch, to name a few), either donated to or purchased by the library. Items are catalogued and stored in from what I understand is a cosy space and covers a vast range of topic areas from 16-18th century European history, literature and architecture to pulp fiction. Donald generously shares some of the titles that are held, many of which I have never heard of which highlights that I have indeed been working in a bubble over in the Clocktower and I really should get out more.
The current exhibition, Aliens, Androids & Unicorns, is made up largely of the personal collection of Hal Salive, which his wife kindly donated to special collections. For Donald, the call for props for the exhibition proved interesting with a wealth of items generously provided from some surprising corners of the University. For a collection such as this to end up at Special Collections is rather rare and for Hal’s wife Rachel it was important to her that the collection stayed together. Donald was more than happy to help. When I asked what was the weirdest thing in the collection, there was a stunned silence, highlighting that all the treasures in special collections are equally loved by Donald. However, after I applied some journalistic pressure to get an answer he suggested the Princess Diana Tapestry which was designed on a Commodore 64 before being hand sewn by it’s creator.
As I said goodbye to Donald I walked away from my visit feeling somewhat brighter and inspired. After all it was a fairly grey Dunedin day and I must say the current exhibition is an explosion of colour. I was keen to learn if visiting Special Collections did indeed improve your day and mood and generally made you feel more inspired about life so I caught up with Dr Mike King who confirmed the urban rumour that he had visited the display. In his words (well there were more words but Mike talked faster than I can type so I have summarised):
” It certainly made me feel uplifted”
So go forth and visit Special Collections, upstairs, first floor of Central Library. It doesn’t cost you a penny and you can go as a group if you want (why not organise an department field trip? Donald loves having visitors). Equally if you can not be bothered getting out of your chair you can view past collections online. The current display ends 29 May with new exhibition “Black + White + Grey – the lives + Works of Eric Gill + Robert GIbbings’ starting 5 June 2015. Special Collections is open from 8.30 to 5pm Mon to Fri.
Mel Adams, GRS