The Canterbury Museum Opened – 3rd December 1867

On 3 December 1867, in an upstairs room in the Canterbury Provincial Chambers, German explorer, Sir Julius von Haast put his personal collections of geological finds on display, in what would become known as the Canterbury Museum.

In his role of Provincial Geologist and Surveyor General, Julius explored the great rivers of Canterbury; drawing maps and making studies of the mineral potential. He traversed some near-impassable terrains and as a result of these adventures the Haast River, Haast Pass and the town of Haast are named. He also discovered Moa bones and with these, he traded with overseas museums and his collection grew in leaps and bounds.

Architect Benjamin Woolfield Mountfort was hired to design a new building to house Julius’ collection and a site was chosen in the Christchurch Botanical Gardens where this heritage gem still remains today. The Museum made the move to this specially designed building in 1870.

For a more in depth look at the Sir Julius von Haast, check out the following link:

*image courtesy of The Alexander Turnbull Library – Moa skeletons, at the Canterbury museum, Christchurch. Ref: 1/4-054912-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.

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