19 March 2011

Exhibition: 'Guts, God & Gold: Dunedin in the 1860s'

The latest Reed Gallery exhibition, 'Guts, God & Gold: Dunedin in the 1860s', marks the 150th anniversary of the discovery of gold in the province of Otago, New Zealand, in 1861. The man who made the discovery, Gabriel Read (1824-94), was quoted as saying the precious metal was ‘shining like the stars of Orion on a dark, frosty night’. Read’s discovery touched off the Central Otago gold rush and led to a population explosion. Dunedin’s population trebled within four years, and the town became New Zealand’s largest and wealthiest urban city by the end of the decade with a population of approximately 15,000.

Bell Hill Excavation, Dunedin, 1863.

The more than thirty-five exhibited items include printed books, contemporary photographs, hand-drawn maps, original diaries kept by a settler and sailor respectively, land deeds on vellum, and even the bugle used by then postman John 'Jock' Graham (1817-1904). All of these objects do well to highlight the three themes of ‘Guts, God & Gold’. It took guts to board a ship bound for Dunedin. Leaving London, for instance, meant an arduous three-month journey at sea to start life anew. The construction of a myriad of churches during this decade expanded the word of God and remain at Dunedin’s spiritual heart; and lastly, but most importantly, it was the discovery of gold that allowed the immigrants, merchants, bankers and miners, to change an infant town into a thriving and vibrant city.
The exhibition was jointly curated by members of the Heritage Collections staff, each of whom wrote on a topic of interest. In addition to gold, such themes as religious expansion, social history, and communications are also examined.

A PDF of the item list is available for download:

The above link also leads to Emeritus Professor Erik Olssen's speech at the exhibition opening.
'Guts, God & Gold: Dunedin in the 1860s' runs until 12 June.

No comments:

Post a Comment