Museum Shanghai show 'great honour'

The Otago Museum has been invited to stage a big exhibition at the opening of a major new museum in Shanghai early next year in a ''great honour'' for the Dunedin institution, organisers say.

This development follows the success of the Otago Museum's first large-scale overseas show, ''Te Ao Maori: Maori Treasures from the Otago Museum'', which attracted more than 600,000 visitors at the Shanghai Museum in 2011.

Clare Wilson, the Otago Museum collections, research and experience director, said the new show would run at the opening of the Shanghai Natural History Museum, in February next year. She was ''really proud and excited'' to be involved with helping develop the exhibition, which is likely to run for four months in Shanghai.

The new exhibition was ''very, very important'', not only in increasing the Otago Museum's international reputation, but also in further strengthening Dunedin's ties with Shanghai, its Chinese sister city.

The show would also significantly further boost Otago's tourist image in Shanghai and there was ''a very high likelihood'' it would also increase Chinese tourism to Dunedin and Otago.

Otago Museum officials said the museum would contribute staff time to planning and developing the show and preparing artefacts for display, but major costs, including shipping, would be met by Shanghai museum authorities.

Ms Wilson said when she joined the Otago Museum staff nearly 20 years ago it would have been ''unimaginable'' to mount a major exhibition in a large overseas city such as Shanghai.

But the museum had already shown it could ''deliver'' on such projects.

The opportunity to provide the exhibition had come through the Otago Museum's good relationship with the Shanghai Science and Technology Museum.

This major institution, which itself attracts more than two million visitors annually, is establishing the new museum.

After running in Shanghai, the Otago show was also likely to tour elsewhere in China, officials said.

Attendance at next year's show was likely to match or exceed that at the Shanghai Museum exhibition.

Developed in association with the Otago Museum's Maori advisory committee, the proposed exhibition show would introduce Chinese visitors to New Zealand's spectacular natural history ''seen through the eyes of the Maori myth of creation''.

The museum was partnering with Natural History New Zealand to develop ''stunning audiovisual elements'' for the show, which would include some Maori artefacts but also a much larger number of natural history artefacts, such as some moa bones, giving insights into Otago's distinctive flora and fauna.

Although the Otago Museum had curated the ''Te Ao Maori'' show, the Shanghai Museum had organised display arrangements.

All the work for the new show, including display arrangements, would be organised by the Otago Museum, she said.

john.gibb@odt.co.nz

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