Canterbury Museum is a natural and human history museum located in Christchurch.
Canterbury Museum is located on Rolleston Ave, next to the Botanic Gardens and Christ’s College. The museum is open every day, except Christmas Day. During the summer (October to March) the museum is open from 9 am to 5.30 pm. During the winter months (April to September) the museum closes at 5 pm. Entry to the museum is free but donations are appreciated. The Discovery Centre is $2 per person, no charge for children under three.
The museum was established in 1867 by German geologist Sir Julius von Haast and was originally housed in the Provincial Council Buildings.
Its current site is the impressive Gothic Revival stone building, which was designed by Benjamin Mountfort and opened in 1870. Over the years there have been several extensions to the building. Today the museum building is four levels. Exhibits are located on levels 1 and 3. There is a café with views of the botanic gardens located on level 4. Level 2 is the administration level and is closed to the general public.
The museum has over 2.1 million items in its collection.
Level 1 has excellent exhibits on early Canterbury settlement, Maori history and New Zealand natural history.
The Mountfort Gallery occupies the part of the original Canterbury Museum building and is named after Benjamin Mountfort. It currently houses the museum’s European Decorative Art and Costume collection.
There is a slice kiwiana with Fred and Myrtle’s Paua Shell House. For over 40 years Fred and Myrtle would show tourists around their paua shell decorated home in the Bluff. Following the couple’s passing their grandson donated the paua shell collection to Canterbury Museum. A replica of the lounge was created using photographs taken in late 2006.
There is also a replica of early Canterbury street on level 1 with early 19th century shops.
The third level has much of the natural history section including the bird hall, dinosaur and geology exhibits. The third floor also has international exhibits including an Asian Arts collection, Egyptian exhibit with its own mummy Tash pen Khonsu and an Antarctic exhibit.