on November 14, 2008
I hate to admit it, but I have a tendency to avoid museums when I first visit a new city. Unless there is an exhibit on that I really want to see, I tend to find them a rather tedious thing to do when there is so much to experience in the city just by walking around and seeing what it has to offer. There are exceptions of course, like the Picasso Museum in Barcelona (which unfortunately was a huge disappointment) or the Louve in Paris – which is intrinsically a part of the city and it’s cultural heritage. But a museum, for the sake of seeing a museum never makes it very high on my list of things to do in a new city if I only plan to be there for a few days. Which is why I didn’t make it into the Canterbury Museum on my first visit. There was so much to see, do, and taste in the city that I never found myself with an afternoon I felt was free to explore them. On my second visit, however – with rather less money than I originally arrived with, and no longer thinking in UK pounds (which makes everything in the city seem a little bit more expensive than it did at first) I found my way past bookshops and the market area of town on a cold and cloudy day right into the museum. And as I admit is usually the case, I was very very glad that I did. Situated perfectly adjacent to the wonderful Botanic Gardens, its actually very nicely situated for a relaxing afternoon of wandering about the gardens and then the museum (or visa versa) And even better if you are there on the weekends, as you will make your way through the wonderful weekend markets to get to the area, perfect for a bit of refreshment along the way. The museum itself is surprisingly large, with lots of exhibits. If you just want to spend an small amount of time there (up to an hour) and don’t want to miss anything, don’t spend too much time on the wonderful collection of Maori works on the first floor. But it is free (though they ask for a $5 donation) you can return time and time again and slowly take your time to take in all of it. The selection of Maori art, jewlery and carvings in the first exhibit is very good indeed, and my favourite bit of the museum. Each part was filled with historical information and lots of regional information on what and where and how each of the items were used, and was actually extremely interesting. There are also some Moa skeletons which are very impressive (a famous but extinct New Zealand bird.) These are the best bits of the museum, but by no means the last. There is a rather interesting bit called Christchurch Street – which though most entertaining for kids was still fun to walk around as they had reconstructed a fictious street from the pioneering days of the cosmoplotin city you have just been walking around yourself. And it’s actually very well put together.There are some exhibits of cars, bikes and boats from different eras in New Zealand, and upstairs a kind of mish-mash of exhibits from meteors and astrological things to Egyptian artefacts. There is a large interactive kids section, which is one of the best for kids I’ve ever seen. Great for a day out for the family if you are looking for something cheap and good to do. And one of the most oddly impressive parts was the Chinese section of the museum which had some amazing ancient Chinese artefacts, art, and cloths – really worth going up to see. All in all it was a really informative and nice way to spend an afternoon in Christchurch.
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