UNESCO status for heritage photographic collection

nelson provincial museum staff , Darryl gallagher - senior curator of photography and lucinda blackley-jimson - chief executive, with the unessco inscription 

nelson provincial museum staff , Darryl gallagher - senior curator of photography and lucinda blackley-jimson - chief executive, with the unessco inscription 

RELEASED 29 November 2017

Nelson Provincial Museum has received a prestigious UNESCO honour with the inscription of the Tyree Studio Collection onto the UNESCO Memory of the World New Zealand documentary heritage register.

The Memory of the World Trust announced seven new inscriptions of documentary heritage collections at a function in Auckland today.  Also receiving this honour were the John A Lee Collection and J.T. Diamond West Auckland History Collection (Auckland Libraries), New Zealand official photographs, World War 1914-1918 (Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington), Kaleidoscope - a weekly television arts documentary programme, 1976-1989 (Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision, Wellington), the Ng New Zealand Chinese Cultural Collection (Presbyterian Research Centre, Dunedin), and Salmond Anderson Architectural Records (University of Otago’s Hocken Collections, Uare Taoka o Hākena, Dunedin).

There are now 27 documentary heritage collections on the New Zealand register.  Each is a valuable source of research for historians, researchers, educators and many others in New Zealand and the world.

UNESCO recognition draws attention to the significance of documentary heritage and the importance of ensuring it is preserved and made accessible.

The Memory of the World New Zealand Trust Chair Dianne Macaskill said, “the Memory of the World Trust is delighted to have these seven new inscriptions on the register.  Inscription on the UNESCO register makes our history, our culture and our values more visible to New Zealanders and to the world  The inscriptions include collections that cover  the Great War, 20th century politics, the arts and literature, Chinese culture and experiences in New Zealand, architectural design and social and industrial developments.

“All greatly contribute to the story of our nation’s history and heritage and are significant to the identity of New Zealanders today.  The Memory of the World Trust congratulates the successful institutions and the people who have cared for these taonga. 

“You should all be proud of the work you have achieved to safeguard these valuable collections and make them accessible so that we understand our past and its significance for our future.”

The Memory of the World New Zealand Trust Chair Dianne Macaskill said, “the Trust is delighted to welcome these seven new inscriptions onto the register.  Each is important and highly significant to our nation’s history and society today.” 

The Tyree Studio Collection was nominated for inscription onto the register by the Nelson Provincial Museum and Alexander Turnbull Library in Wellington that holds some of the collection.

Dianne Macaskill said the collection is representative of New Zealand society for a period of 80 years from mid-19th to mid-20th century. It has been used to illuminate and illustrate a broad range of topics relating to our history and cultural life.

Nelson Museum’s Senior Curator Photography, Darryl Gallagher, says the Tyree Studio Collection, dating from the 1860s until the 1940s is a nationally significant pictorial record documenting the development of the Nelson Tasman region from soon after the beginning of European settlement.

The 123,000 plus negatives are remarkable in having survived intact and today provide an invaluable insight into the development of regional New Zealand. Industry, social interaction and portraits of the people are presented in a resource that is utilized regionally, nationally and internationally.

Nelson Museum’s Chief Executive Lucinda Blackley-Jimson said, “a photographic collection so complete and intact, which documents life here during two world wars and significant periods of social change makes this a unique and nationally significant collection. We are delighted that it has been recognized by UNESCO as the cultural treasure it is.”

Access to this collection has also been enabled with a major digitisation project that was initiated in 2010 and finally completed in 2017.

Today most of these images are already viewable on Nelson Provincial Museum’s Collection Online: https://collection.nelsonmuseum.co.nz/explore

Chris Szekely, the Chief Librarian at Alexander Turnbull Library says, ‘’the Tyree Studio Collection of photographs, held in part by the Turnbull Library, is a unique chronicle of early life in Nelson, a rich social and cultural resource of national significance.’’


Captions Trafalgar Street, Queen Victoria Jubilee, 1887. Nelson Provincial Museum, Tyree Studio Collection: 181975