Paua shell house display at Canterbury Museum

<br />Canterbury Museum's depiction of the Fluteys' lounge in the  paua house at Bluff. Photo by...
<br />Canterbury Museum's depiction of the Fluteys' lounge in the paua house at Bluff. Photo by The New Zealand Herald.
Family divisions were forgotten at the opening of Fred and Myrtle Flutey's paua collection at Canterbury Museum on Thursday night.

The exhibition is a recreation of most of the Bluff home which attracted visitors from around the world.

It includes the entranceway and the Fluteys' lounge decorated with paua shells.

Instead of bedrooms, the museum has installed a theatre where a short film is shown about the Fluteys and their obsession with the shells.

It was thought the collection would be lost forever after the deaths of Mr and Mrs Flutey in 2000 and 2001, but it has now been brought back into the public domain.

The exhibition has not been without controversy, with many Southlanders arguing the collection should have remained in Bluff, and some family members upset over the move.

The Fluteys' grandson, Ross Bowen, created ructions last year when he removed the shells from the house, sold the property, and later announced he was lending the collection to the museum.

He said the shells were loaned to the museum for 10 years after it became apparent the family could no longer look after the collection.

One of the Fluteys' daughters, Gloria Henderson, who lives next door to the former paua house, said she was still reeling from the house being stripped.

Her sister, Esmay Ellis, said the fate of the collection had caused a family rift.

However, family members were among the 190 invited guests at Thursday night's launch.

Mr Bowen said the museum had got the re-creation spot on.

"It's given it a new lease on life . . . everything shines," he said.

Museum social history curator Sarah Whitehead said family members, even those who were initially upset about the shells leaving Bluff, had been a great help by providing photographs and stories.

Exhibitions manager Stephen Ruscoe said the collection had been saved from being lost to the nation.

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