Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Women who love women and Local History

Information from the Charlotte Museum, on their upcoming event day in September. Further to this post.

Mt Albert's only museum is organising the first of a series of local history events on Sunday, September 12. 

The Charlotte Museum’s founder, Miriam Saphira, will describe how this community-based museum was established and what was involved in setting it up. She will describe the search for a venue, compliance issues, funding, and how its collections are catalogued and conserved. Miriam will give sound advice on the practicalities of starting up a museum, making historical societies aware of the challenges they face as well as describing what the museum has achieved. 

Jenny Rankine, the museum's co-ordinator and a member of the Mount Albert Historical Society, will describe the differing attitudes to women who loved women in New Zealand since the early 1800s. For example, it is not commonly known that in the 1800s, openly loving relationships between women who lived together were accepted and sometimes widely praised.

The event starts at 2pm. There will be plenty of time for questions and discussion after both speakers, followed by nibbles and drinks. Entry is by koha. 

The Charlotte Museum is a museum of New Zealand lesbian history and culture. As well as being the only museum in Mt Albert, we believe it is the only lesbian museum in the world. The museum is tucked away in a small business estate in suburban Mt Albert, at Unit 7a, 43a Linwood Avenue, off St Lukes Road. It moved from its original site in Grey Lynn in November 2009 and opened again in February. Charlotte Museum is open to the public on Wednesdays from noon to 4pm, and Sundays from 1.30 to 4pm, and at other times by arrangement. It is run by the Charlotte Museum Trust and relies heavily on volunteer labour. 

The museum's displays include panels from past exhibitions and photographs from events, as well as a treasure trove of fascinating images, artifacts, memorabilia, posters, artwork and information. Museum staff and volunteers are knowledgeable members of the community who can expand on aspects of the exhibitions for members of the public who want more information. Volunteers are cataloguing the museum's significant collections of lesbian books, magazines, posters, records, coasters, and other ephemera. 

The museum's first exhibition, a survey of lesbian life in New Zealand from the 1800s, was followed by ones on sexuality and lesbian theatre. Volunteers are working on forthcoming exhibitions about lesbian music, lesbians in sport and lesbians at work. 

The local history event is part of a regular programme of public events at the museum. Events in 2010 included an Anzac Day talk and photos about the Pramazons, a lesbian feminist peace group that pushed prams from Whakatane around the East Cape to Gisborne in 1983, performing puppet shows, concerts and theatre about a nuclear-free and independent Pacific at local halls and marae every night. In May, the museum celebrated the centenary of the birth of Tuini Ngawai, a prolific Ngati Porou songwriter, composer, kapa haka teacher and champion shearer who had relationships only with women. In June and July, the museum hosted gay community events talking about the different experiences and perspectives of older and younger lesbians, gay men, takataapui and transgender people, and encouraging dialogue between the generations. Contact the museum on 021 112 6868 or email 



  1. See?
    Yet another compelling reason to incorporate NZ into Oz, just to drag our out-dated Oz laws (and politicians) into the real world!

  2. We're in the real world? Cool! Cheers, Jayne. :-)