By Wayne Holland
Have you ever considered the best way to move a huge engine that weighs upwards of 5 tonnes? Or the safest way to move an incredibly fragile and historically important Hawaiian canoe? These were just a couple of the problems posed during three days of ‘space creation’ in our stores.
Our super store needs to be reorganised before it can be made accessible to the public, but we had one major problem, the stores were full!! As I am sure you can understand it’s impossible to reorganise a store, or even a room, or cupboard without first removing loads of the objects filling it!
So we have temporarily relocated many of our larger objects to an alternative store. They will return at a later date, but for now their absence provides us with the space we need.
It was important to ensure nothing ended up being lost or misplaced, when dealing with such a large volume of objects this is easier said than done. I had the job of photographing every object before it left the site; this was cross referenced with a very thorough documentation check. This means we retain a comprehensive file of information on every single object.
In case you are wondering, the 5 tonne engine remains stubbornly in place having defeated both our forklift and the teleporter from the farm. We will have to contract a specialist removal company to shift it. The Hawaiian canoe has remained in our stores, out of harms way, as it was decided too important to risk it going on a road trip. All objects were moved with the highest degree of care, overseen at all times by representatives from our Conservation department, to ensure no damage occurred to any of the objects as they were moved.
After three days of very hard work by all concerned (curators, museum trainees, conservators, collections management and the very hard working removal men) we cleared the space needed! See our before and after photographs below.
The Hawaiian canoe is a truly exceptional object of the utmost importance; the canoe is made of Koa wood, the outrigger of Wili wili wood and the paddles of native red wood. It was presented to a Mr W.H.R Armstrong by the last king of Hawaii, King Kalakaua who reigned 1874-1891. It was later accessioned into our collection as a gift from Mr Armstrong in 1891.
In 1881 King Kalakaua became the first monarch to circumnavigate the globe, visiting many countries. On this trip he was accompanied by his minister of state, American born William N. Armstrong, who later published an account of these travels titled ‘Around the World with a King’, which is still in print.
Sadly it has proven impossible to confirm whether there is any relation between the Mr W.H.R Armstrong who was presented with the canoe by the king, and the aforementioned minister of state William N. Armstrong.
King Kalakaua was nicknamed ‘the Merrie Monarch’ because he loved the joyful elements in life. He revived Hula, which had previously been banned, there is now an annual hula festival called the Merrie Monarch festival named in his honour. He also wrote a song called ‘Hawaii Ponoi’ which is to this day Hawaii’s state song.