Victoriana Gallery



The Victorian era (1837-1901) was when European New Zealanders still looked to Great Britain for the latest trends and fashions. Wealthy homes of the time were often crowded with imported, heavy and intricately designed furniture; as well as an assortment of trinkets and curios used to display the owner's status and 'cultured' tastes.


The Victoriana display illustrates what a fairly wealthy Southland household might have looked like on an autumnal evening, in the year of Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee, 1887 - a time only our oldest staff member, Henry the Tuatara, might remember!


Starting at the bedroom, you will see the room is dominated by an ornately decorated mahogany bed, a substantial infant’s cot, and an impressive overmantle and fireplace. Note the hand basin and chamber pots on the bedside dresser – this was the 19th century version of an en-suite bathroom!


Next we move into the hallway. The central figure in the hall is an older lady wearing a long black half-hoop gown, a bonnet made from net, ribbon and ostrich feathers, and carrying a beaded handbag. This style was fairly common for the upper-middle class in Victorian times.


The parlour contains some of the grandest items in our collection: a high quality Collard & Collard piano (1856); the grandfather clock (1770), which would have been an antique timepiece even 120 years ago; and the spectacular green glass epergne, the table centrepiece, in the middle of the room.


This exhibition was designed to highlight the spectacular assortment of historic items kindly donated by Southlanders over the years, and also to encourage the preservation of the many types of objects that are no longer in use.