Meet Museum Guide Amanda, who has been working at the Otago Museum for seven months, combining her knowledge of archaeology with her passion for sharing the Museum’s interesting stories with our visitors.
What do you love about your job?
Being surrounded by so much natural and human history. Even after many years studying the archaeology and history of New Zealand and the Pacific, culminating in my PhD, I am still learning new and interesting things.
So what’s the best part?
Seeing the excitement of the youngest visitors when they encounter something new and interesting. Is the mummy real? Is the plesiosaur a dinosaur? Why is there a crocodile? The Museum is great for families and I love the idea of the Museum as a place to teach the next generation about our long and varied history and our place in the world.
What’s your favourite gallery and why?
I love being surrounded by artefacts from ancient cultures in People of the World. My interest in archaeology first began with TV shows on Egypt, Greece and Rome (and of course the Indiana Jones movies).
What are you particularly interested in?
The background and ethical issues relating to how museum collections are accumulated is very interesting. The European Victorian ideas of how to preserve and record ‘other’ cultures and wildlife by amassing artefacts for display is so very different to how we think today. The stories behind so many of the objects begin in far-off times and places, but they also include the differing Victorian ideas that led to their collection. In many ways, the modern museum has developed out of struggles to escape the thinking of the Victorian colonial era.
If you could make anything in the Museum come to life, what would it be, and why?
The sad fate of our native huia has a lot to do with Victorian collecting habits. Hundreds of huia were killed and preserved for European museums and drawing rooms, and even for jewellery. We have both a male and female in the Nature gallery and I am sure they would be happy singing with the other beautiful birds at Orokonui Ecosanctuary if given life again.
If you were locked in the Museum overnight, what would you do?
I’d probably watch a bit of TV on the 360° planetarium screen, then have a nap in … the moa bone cave! Or Animal Attic!
What would you tell visitors not to miss?
Life before Dinosaurs: Permian Monsters. It’s only here until February and has something fun and interesting for everyone.
Top tip for visiting the Museum:
Take your time. Even if you have been here many times, there will always be something you haven’t noticed before if you take time to look carefully. There are some very interesting birds in Animal Attic…
If you see me in the Museum, ask me about:
Anything! If I don’t know the answer, then I will find out for you and we will both learn something new.