“I was struck by the way the choice of objects pointed up the diversity of the population, and so openly addressed the historic conflicts which have somehow been overcome to make possible a sense of united purpose today. And with almost every object, there was clearly a much wider discussion opened up, which could be pursued at leisure.” – Neil MacGregor
Auckland Museum, founded in 1852, just 12 years after New Zealand became a British colony, was the nation’s first public museum. From the outset the Museum was encyclopaedic in its collecting of ‘specimens illustrative of the Natural History of New Zealand…also, Weapons, Clothing, Implements of New Zealand, and the Islands of the Pacific’. Starting in a farm cottage, the Museum is now one of the most important in Oceania. Dominating the central Auckland landscape, its monumental Greek Revival building is one of the visual icons of the city. The building is also a memorial to the war dead of the Auckland province, hence the Museum’s full title, Auckland War Memorial Museum.
Auckland Museum houses the world’s leading collection of Maori taonga (treasures) and, reflecting Auckland’s place as the world’s largest Polynesian city, multiple traditional and contemporary arts from throughout the Pacific region. The Museum’s director, David Gaimster, explores this extraordinary collection, each item with its own compelling backstory.
Dr David Gaimster joined the Auckland Museum as Director in April 2017. Previously David was Director of The Hunterian at the University of Glasgow, Scotland’s oldest museum. He began his career at the British Museum as Assistant Keeper for Medieval & Later Antiquities and has worked in a number of heritage leadership roles in the UK, including as Senior Policy Advisor, Department for Culture, Media & Sport and as CEO of the Society of Antiquaries of London.
David has published extensively on historical archaeology and material culture, museology and on international cultural property. He is a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London, the Royal Society of Edinburgh and of the Museums Association (UK).