Domain, Auckland: not much in the way of aircraft - just two in fact. But this is where I saw my first Spitfire - a bubble canopy MK XVI, and one of the few Mitsubishi A6M5's on display.
Auckland has had a museum since 1852, and since 1929 it has been housed in the War memorial building in the domain. The building, with its classically inspired architecture commemorates World War One, and the names of battles in which New Zealanders participated are listed around the exterior walls. The Auckland Cenotaph is situated on the steps in front of the building, overlooking the Waitemata harbour.
Inside the building has three levels. On the first are the displays on Asian Art, Maori, the Pacific, Pacific canoes, and Special exhibitions. The second level has displays on Applied arts and New Zealand's natural history including Birds, Whales & Fishes, and Volcanoes. A special feature is the childrens discovery centre. The third level has a 'centennial street', Halls of Remembrance and displays on New Zealands Military history.
The recently redeveloped military display entitled 'Scars on the Heart' covers New Zealand's participation in conflicts, ranging from its own battles of the 1840's & 1860's through the Boer war, WW I & II, and various Asian conflicts to current day UN participation. The previous display of unadorned artifacts has been replaced by a world class multi-media exhibition incorporating film, video, oral history interviews with models and life size reproductions of trenches, along with a wide range of artifacts. The result is an exhibition which can easily occupy an afternoon or more of exploration. The Spitfire & Zero have recently undergone refurbishment work in a public gallery, and are now in new displays.
The museum is open 10am to 5pm daily (except Christmas Day & Good Friday) with free admission (although there is a charge for some special exhibitions).
Auckland Institute & Museum,
Private Bag 92018,
© 1997 Phillip Treweek, all rights reserved