The Air Force Museum of New Zealand has secured funding from the Lottery Grants Board funding for a 12-month project to preserve and catalogue a critically important aviation collection.
Based at the birthplace of the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) at Wigram in Christchurch, the museum has more than one million objects in its collection charting the history of the air force from its origins 100 years ago.
Objects Curator Emma Johnson said the museum team was delighted to secure a $68,800 grant which would be used to help catalogue and conserve the museum’s Safety and Surface (S&S) Collection. The total project is more than $106,000.
The S&S collection includes everything from life rafts, oxygen masks, helmets and parachutes through to ejector seats.
Emma said most of the collection was accumulated at Wigram in the days before digital photography and electronic cataloguing, so the time had come to go through the collection with a fine-tooth comb.
“It’s a bit like a super stock take,’’ Emma said.
“We will be investigating everything we have, taking photographs of each object, and cleaning and cataloguing everything. There are hundreds of boxes to go through and judging from experience might find a whole lot of treasures and stories we did not know we had.
“A lot of the collection is on shelving that was damaged in the Canterbury earthquakes and although we have made it safe, this project will bring the storage and cataloguing up to best practice standards and future proof the collection for the generations to come.’’
“We’re grateful to the Lotto Grants Board for the funding – without this support we would not have the resources to take this on. It will make a huge difference to us, and we can’t thank them enough!’’
The grant will allow the museum to employ an additional technician to work on the collection fulltime for 12 months.
They’ll have help close at hand in the form of the museum’s S&S Technician Nathan ‘Barf’ Bosher, who has more than 42 years’ experience.
S&S is the RNZAF trade that covers all material relating to the safety and the finishing of aircraft.
Even though he has more than four decades in the trade, Barf said the collection is likely to be full of surprises with some of the boxes dating back to the 1930s.
“We’re likely to come across some objects that’ll leave us stumped,’’ Barf said.
“If there’s anything we can’t work out we will be reaching out to the international aviation heritage community and the ex-RNZAF family for help. Fortunately, there is a lot of experience around which we’ll be looking to tap into.’’
The Air Force Museum of New Zealand is a world class heritage operation with 30 aircraft and attracts more than 150,000 visitors each year. It is free and open 364 days a year.
It is also the RNZAF’s national memorial to the more than 4,600 Kiwis who have died while serving with the RNZAF or other air forces since 1915.
Every year, 100% of Lotto NZ profits are transferred to the Lottery Grants Board, for distribution to thousands of community groups and great causes across New Zealand.
Lotto NZ is proud to see the funds raised by its players making a difference at the Air Force Museum of New Zealand in their work to preserve Aotearoa’s aviation treasures.