Step back in time with Puke Ariki's new exhibition

14 March 2019

Twenty years ago, when Bob Murray discovered his grandad’s photographs of New Plymouth streets taken in the 1930s, he decided to recreate them and see how the Taranaki city had changed.

Bob, who came across the old photos in a basement workshop, didn’t know why Tony Thorne had taken more than 80 street views but was delighted to find a ‘snapshot’ of the city from 1939.

Bob’s photos from 1999 offer a counterpoint to his grandad’s work and now, NPDC’s Puke Ariki gives visitors the chance to see the many changes in its new exhibition at the Lane Gallery, Point of View: Collecting Continued. Updated images taken by Bob this year will be added to the exhibition, which runs from 15 March to 1 September.

Everyone I have talked to about the project has expressed a genuine interest in them and the story behind how I found them and recovered them, then went back to all the same 63 positions where my grandfather took those photos,” explained Bob.

“It means a lot to me to have my grandfather Tony's extraordinary set of photographs of New Plymouth, as well as the photos I have taken, exhibited at the Puke Ariki Museum. I'm really excited that even more people can enjoy them.”

The 1939 photos were taken on a glass plate camera (which was antiquated even in the late 30s) while Bob, a keen photographer, used a 35mm camera to recreate the images in 1999. His photos from this year will be taken on a digital camera and added to the exhibition in July.

“This fascinating exhibition gives people the chance to step back in time and see how our city has changed,” says Puke Ariki Acting Director Colleen Mullins.  “Running alongside Whare Kahurangi: 100 Years of Collecting, it’s pleasing to see our shared history brought to life at NPDC’s Puke Ariki with these two exhibitions.”

  • Points of View: Collecting Continued is on show between 15 March to 1 September at the Lane Gallery, Level 2, Puke Ariki Library
  •  Whare Kahurangi: 100 Years of Collecting will open on 6 April and runs until 6 October at Puke Ariki’s Temporary Exhibitions Gallery.

Puke Ariki Fast Facts:

  • Puke Ariki is owned and managed by NPDC.
  • It is the world’s first purpose-built, fully integrated museum, library and visitor information centre.
  • It opened 15 June 2003.
  • The total number of visitors to Puke Ariki and district libraries in the 2017/18 year was 801,703.
  • In that same period, Puke Ariki and community libraries issued 779,908 items.
  • Puke Ariki has three long-term galleries (Takapou Whāriki, Taranaki Naturally and the Gallery of Taranaki Life) and components of these get changed out regularly.
  • The temporary exhibition space shows touring exhibitions that are either curated in-house or brought in from other museums.
images in new plymouth taken in 1939 and 1999 taken by Bob Murray