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"Gold is Where You Find It: 150 Years of Gold in Central Otago" opens with a public launch in the museum in Arrowtown on Friday after more than a year in the making, and at least 100 residents are expected to attend.
Researcher and curator Angela English, of Dipton, gave the Queenstown Times a sneak preview on Friday of the wealth of history and heritage to be unveiled in the exhibition, a cornerstone of the gold anniversary celebrations to come.
A total of 35 interpretation panels have been researched, written and created to take visitors on an exploration of the precious metal and the human endeavour to obtain it that shaped Otago and New Zealand.
Gold miners, from early pioneers to their modern counterparts, are identified and where, how and why they arrived is explained.
Spotlights are shone on their health, hazards, the role of women, the Chinese community and how townships sprang up almost overnight, with differing fortunes.
Archive photographs have been enlarged to reveal new details, such as the tam-o'-shanter and caps with candles tied on, worn by rugged Bullendale miners in the 1880s.
A prospector's hut has been re-created and an audio clip by Scotsman and friend of the museum Jim Rose, of Arrowtown, uses historical testimonies to tell of the hard life and times of pioneers in the 1860s.
A variety of objects, from a genuine Emmy Award presented to Queenstown producer Julian Grimmond for The Amazing Race to a gold tooth from a Wakatipu dentist, show how gold has been used over time.
"This gold ring is from some of the first gold out of the Arrow River and it belongs to William Butler and we have a photo of Mrs Butler wearing the ring," Mrs English said.
Original paintings on loan from the Toitu Otago Settlers Museum and the Southland Museum depict the frontier village of Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu in 1863, 1864 and 1868.
Arrowtown gold prospector, farmer and author Alan Hamilton has been invited to speak at the opening of Gold is Where You Find It in the museum on Friday at 7.30pm.
The launch will take place after the community gathers for the unveiling of the 150th anniversary plaque on the Arrow River near Ramshaw Lane at 7pm.