Sunday, August 11, 2013

Where I despair for corrections at Auckland Museum

 Originally published 10 August 2013 on Facebook Timespanner.

Dear Auckland War Memorial Museum,
I do get it when you folks say that you have difficulties in changing your display interpretive panels, correcting the errors. Apparently, it is very difficult.

You've still got the errors with the one by Te Toki a Tapiri (and probably the Maori guides are still telling folks the wrong info, plus the stuff about it being "brought into the Museum in pieces") ...

Then, there's the great confusion and entanglement over the Teutenberg heads ... How Hone Heke's descendants continue to let you get away with the panel is anyone's guess.

Yesterday, visiting the Museum's Weird & Wonderful section with good friend Liz Clark, I spied that you folks now have Avondale Spiders on display: "made famous by the Spider-man films". Um -- no. Avondale Spiders (aka Australian huntsmen) don't feature in any of the Spiderman (no hyphen) movies, they were gathered up for use in "Arachnophobia".

Seriously -- did you folk have to "dumb things down" like this? I really can't trust any of your information at this rate -- and I should be able to, because you're a world-class regional museum.

Please, please, please sort things out. Even if only eventually ...



  1. Surely any museum worth its salt would be horrified to have incorrect information and immediately cover up until corrections could be made.

  2. I'd think the same, Andrew. But such, so far, is not the case at Auckland Museum. The Weird and Wonderful section has only recently been revamped, as well. I really can't take anything put up at their displays as correct info anymore, without independently checking. Somewhere along the line, history is getting scrambled, and rather badly.

  3. YES!!! It is soooooo difficult to have corrections made in museums and galleries. Once the curators have written out the panels, and have had them printed up for visitors to read, there is no going back. Those curators are already on to their next tasks and won't even remember what you are complaining about.

    This is true, whether they agree with your corrections or whether they think you are wrong! I tried three times in Melbourne to have one mistake corrected :(

  4. Thanks, Hels -- glad I'm not the only one! I'm just very disappointed, the Avondale Spider display doing the straw on the camel's back thing for me. All just a very, very big sigh, really.

  5. The Avondale spider statue in Avondale shopping centre is also in my opinion the wrong species. It looks a lot more like a white tail than the characteristic huntsman. And why they have it in a web more suited to say an orb weaving spider is wrong too. But I'm glad New Lynn has its awesome Holden heritage in the form of rusty iron cladding on a brand new building making it look more like Chernobyl is another inspider-ed idea.

  6. Oh, I totally agree. Before "Dale" was in the spotlight, he was brown, and living on top of the Mobil service station in Avondale. While there, friends of mine from down south photographed him. When I asked why, they said it was neat to see a model weta ...

    The web thing ... wrong right from the outset, and he's too chunky (and wrong colour) for a huntsman. So, *sigh* ...

    Big thumbs up for the comment about New Lynn's new look! Yes, that's another *sigh* ...

  7. This is the same museum who are trying to change the history of their own name - Auckland Museum instead of the correct Auckland War Memorial Museum.

    Way back when, 20 or more years ago before the revamp, it always annoyed me that they had the Spandau and the Parabellum aviation machine guns labels swapped with each other!


  8. This comment was accidentally deleted. Sorry, Sandy!

    "Hi everyone :)

    As some of you who follow Lisa's blog know, I work at the museum. Please do keep giving feedback directly to the museum ... it is taken on board, the director, Roy Clare is very approachable. Please don't blame the curators for everything! They really do a fantastic job and are so dedicated - as are the staff in general. The information panels go through several people and processes and things are being revamped. It is a slow process and a lot of people don't realise that one small change may mean a lot of background work. It's often not as simple as just updating a label.

    There is much happening behind the scenes at the moment...we're incredibly flat out... take time to read through this

    It's a massive undertaking, more than the majority realise.

    Sarndra "

  9. Thanks for that Sandy. But where I can understand the long processes involved in sorting out the Teutenberg heads and Te Toki a Tapiri (yes, the museum were informed of both these) -- the Avondale Spider one does appear a case of a quick error of assumption, and is now to be thrown into the pot of long, long processes for correction.

    Measure twice, cut once, is an old saying. This all does seem to be a case, though, of estimate a measure, have a guess, make a cut, and wait for years before patching the result if anyone notices ...

  10. This comment accidentally deleted. From Anon:

    "MOTAT is a bit the same, they have some information on Billy T James that has three or four basic errors in it."