Friday, September 19, 2014

Real Gold and online exhibitions

Sometimes when a customer has navigated their way up two flights of escalators and come across the Sir George Grey Special Collections exhibition room, they might decide to go through another set of glass doors to the reading room for a look around. At this point, they might scan recent acquisitions displayed in a case or walk around the edges of the room looking at the books-about-rare-books on the shelves. Next the person at the reading room desk might walk over and say 'hello' and tell them a bit about the collection. And thankfully, there is always the book Real Gold on hand: making the task of briefly outlining the wonderful, varied and expanding Sir George Grey Special Collections much easier.

Ref: Iain Sharp, Real gold: treasures of Auckland City Libraries,
Auckland: AUP, 2007.
When Real Gold was published in 2007 there was a physical exhibition to coincide with the book launch. In addition, there is an online version of this exhibition which gives detailed information and images of some of the items displayed. Real Gold is available to be purchased from Sir George Grey Special Collections and booksellers nationwide.

Ref: Screen shot of the 'Real Gold' online exhibition home page. 
Like the book Real Gold, Auckland Libraries' online exhibitions are a splendid way of exploring heritage collections. Online exhibitions have a wide reach, do not have a closing date and are a way of revisiting or being introduced to a physical exhibition.


Ref: Screen shot of the 'Antarctica: a tale to tell' online exhibition home page.
Ref: Screen shot of the 'Old Favourites: famous children's books' online exhibition home page.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

From gothic skyscrapers to Hathaway cottages

Dotted around Auckland are a number of residential and commercial buildings designed by Canadian architect Sholto Smith (1881-1936) which are now part of Auckland’s architectural heritage. While researching Auckland’s War Memorial libraries for the Our Boys website, I discovered Smith was noted as the designer of the gorgeous, little Albany War Memorial Library - although there is some controversy over whether it was Smith or his business partner, Thomas Mullions who played the bigger part in the design.

Ref: Jock Phillips and Chris Maclean, Albany War Memorial Library,
about 1986, from nzhistory.net.nz
Smith arrived in New Zealand in 1920, when he was 39 years old, and joined the architectural practice of TC Mullions and C. Fleming McDonald.  He became partner after McDonald’s death and together with Mullions went on to design both residential and commercial properties. Among them the Shortland Flats in downtown Auckland which the pair owned as a venture to generate income. The flats have been described as Auckland’s smallest example of the gothic skyscraper style.

Ref: James D. Richardson, Shortland Flats, 1925,
Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 4-1708 
Another highly visible building is the Lister on the corner of Victoria and Lorne Streets, a design influenced by the Chicago style of modern, simplified architecture dominant in skyscrapers of the early twentieth century. It was named for British surgeon and medical scientist, Sir James Joseph Lister. Interestingly, a letter to the editor of the New Zealand Building Record, dated 15 April 1924, laments the wording on the building as ‘The Lister Bldg’ not ‘Building’: “Who has not gazed with a feeling akin to awe at some recently constructed building and felt with an expression of pride that that building belonged to Auckland; when our eyes have alighted upon the name of the building, and we see emblazoned forth “Lister Bldgs” or some such name. Evidently the architect or designer has run out of lettering…”

Ref: N. M. Dubois, Lister Building (right),  about 1973,
Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 786-A030-2