Great War exhibition

I have no desire to visit the Great War exhibition currently on at the Dominion Museum. I was quite content to visit Pukeahu, the recently revamped memorial park in front of the War Memorial in order to watch my friend read the Ode of Remembrance and to leave it there. She was reading the Ode as part of an ongoing commeration of WWI with a Last Post ceremony performed at Pukeahu every evening of the 100 years since the war. But with my parents in town and both keen to see the exhibition I played driver and took them there.The building has been renovated so the old style atrium looks classically imposing if a little stark. There are nice touches like the small kiwi on the stair railings. The greeters and guides are very friendly and easy going.
Then the exhibition. It is a winding one way route through reasonably narrow corridors. Theyre probably wider than I remember actually as it was quite busy when we walked through. Different years are highlighted by great stone look arches which you walk through into the next year. It is beautifully done. The information posters have personality. They are informative without being overwhelming. There is an excellent time table of the events leading to the declaration if war. They look like I expect communication design looked at the time. There is an ongoing series of words coined during the war that are still in use today. At the same time the information posters dont shy away from the horror of war. They are factual but not sensational.
The exhibits are a mixture of authentic memorabilia, reproductions, models, and life size tableaus. I was torn between admiring the staging and unpacking how it was done – bearing in mind that the work was done by Weta so of course details like hoof prints would be in the recreation. The ones I was particularly drawn too were the ones where I felt a visceral connection to the knowledge I hold. A model of a Belgian fort with a cramped gun tower; a tableau flipping between the lush green forest prewar and the open brown earth after the war; ducking under a tank that protrudes out from its exhibition into the corridor; my human size against the vehicles.
Most people walking through had their arms folded or clasped behind their backs. There was a quiet murmer of voices. It felt like a respectful atmosphere.
Theres no need to rush to see the exhibitions as they will continue for at least four years. Judging by the blank or black spaces on the wall there are more things that will be added.


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