The New Zealand Cricket Museum under the Old Grandstand at the Hawkins Basin Reserve turns 25 next week and its Director for the past nine years David Mealing writes about its beginnings, development and future challenges.
Twenty five Years of Progress: 29 November 1987- 29 November 2012
Following the opening of the R.A Vance Stand in 1981, the Wellington Cricket Umpires Association used the former players’ dining area on the ground floor of the Old Grandstand for their weekly meetings. It was one of their number, Stanley Cowman, who had been accumulating cricketing memorabilia for 10 years. With the assistance of other umpires, Cowman laid the material out on trestle tables and magazine stands during the New Zealand v Australia test in February 1986.
John Oakley, the then President of New Zealand Cricket, was so impressed that he determined, along with the current Executive Director of Wellington Cricket, Darryn Hannah, that the area should become a permanent museum. More than $100,000 was raised and under the direction of museum designer Gary Couchman, the National Cricket Museum was opened by the Patron of the New Zealand Cricket Council, His Excellency the Governor-General of New Zealand, Sir Paul Reeves G.C.M.G. G.C.V.O. on 29 November 1987, with Stanley Cowman the Curator.
A National Cricket Museum Trust was formed with responsibility for the growth and continued development of the museum. The main gallery space occupied by the Cricket Museum was originally the tearoom. Built in 1924, it now has an Historic Places Trust Category 2 classification (registered 11.03.1982).
A major development took place in 2002 with the addition of the J.H. Oakley Gallery, a new collection and archives room, library and theatrette. On 31 March 2003 the National Cricket Museum officially changed its name to the New Zealand Cricket Museum to reflect its association with the sport’s national body, New Zealand Cricket.
The museum is formally administered under a Charitable Trust Deed and a Memorandum of Understanding with each of the two major stakeholders – New Zealand Cricket and the Wellington Museums Trust. The first full-time Director – David Mealing - was appointed in August 2003.
The museum’s vision is clearly espoused in its Mission Statement:
“to stimulate an understanding of cricket, its history and relevance to our society by acquiring, preserving, researching, and displaying material pertinent to the origins and development of the game in New Zealand for the education and enjoyment of the general community – local, national, and international visitors”.
The museum has enjoyed 100 percent visitor satisfaction ratings in each of the past seven consecutive years between 2005-2012 and it has developed displays that show the chronological history and development of New Zealand cricket in a decade-by-decade format.
The displays include collection, archive, and loan material, as well as audio-visual and DVD programmes highlighting major events in the unfolding history of New Zealand cricket. This has been extended in the last 12 months with the introduction of a multi-media touch-screen interactive – “Power Play” - that celebrates players, commentators and broadcasters, cricket music, cricket comedy, and cricket poetry. This interactive is also included on the museum’s website, helping to add yet another dimension to the museum’s profile, and considerably advances the ‘museum without walls’ concept being developed for the museum in a wider public engagement arena.
As the museum celebrates its first 25 years of progress and achievements, it enters a new phase in its development, with the future direction uncertain to a degree because of the current unknown lifespan of the Old Grandstand due to its earthquake prone nature and status. This is more than likely to result in the need to pack and move the museums collections, archives, and displays to a temporary, semi-permanent, or permanent location until a final decision to demolish, mothball, or upgrade (and perhaps return), to the Old Grandstand is made. Whatever the final outcome, or outcomes, of the above, the museum’s future will remain secure.
New Zealand Cricket Museum The New Zealand Cricket Museum is open daily until the end of April from 10.30 am-3.30 pm and on all match days at the Hawkins Basin Reserve.
For more information about the NZ Cricket Museum visit its website here