Some of the best things about museums and galleries are the stories behind the objects and artworks. Quite often some really ordinary things will tell the best stories – working on an exhibition I once found a photo of a man and his shotgun on the Petone foreshore next to a whale. I can’t remember now if he’d shot it or if that was the legend attached to the image.
Dead birds, a samurai suit and some of New Zealand’s most interesting murders are all captured in three books published by museums and galleries last year; 2012 must surely have been the Year of the Museum Book.
I recently realised we’d reviewed three of those museum books on our blog and it would be worth collecting them together so you can judge for yourself. Each of the titles below is linked to the review we did of it.
Secrets and Treasures: Our Stories Told Through the Objects at Archives New Zealand by Ray Waru
“Waru’s writing is really quite flawless; it flows easily, making what could have been a very dry and uninteresting book into something that makes you keep wanting more. Although I wouldn’t put it in to the ‘coffee table book’ genre, it is something you can pick up and just flick through. Pick a page and start reading, or as I did, start at the beginning and read right the way through.”
The Owl That Fell from the Sky by Brian Gill
“Far from being simple stories of museum objects, these are detailed, rich tales that are captivating, contemporary (in their writing), upbeat and at times very funny.”
“For the more earnest amongst us I can imagine this book sitting nicely in the glove compartment of the car – to be whipped out for spontaneous object viewing around New Zealand museums.”
100 Amazing Tales from Aotearoa by Simon Morton and Riria Hotere
“I particularly liked the way the important information (e.g. cultural history, modern art, sport, natural curiosities, etc) is presented largely from the perspective of human interaction. The stories are as much about the weavers as they are the weaving; about the soldiers as the war; and about the researchers and their work. And that’s why this book is so accessible.”
By Emma McCleary, web editor for Booksellers NZ