The History behind the Warkworth Museum textiles collection

Nicola McLeod and Jenni McGlashan

                         Head of Textiles
1980 - 1990              Dulcie Clegg
1990 - 2008              Eve Smart & Joyce Fields
2008 -                   Jenni McGlashan

The Beginning

The Warkworth Museum textiles collection originated in the 1980s. Descendants of the districts pioneer families donated precious items of clothing and household items to the newly opened Warkworth Museum. Through the generosity of other local families and local charity shops, the collection has grown.

Many of the items received in the early days came without any provenance. These items tell a story of their time but not necessarily the story of their use or ownership.

The Team

Our current Volunteer Head of Textiles, Jenni McGlashan joined the textiles team in 2008. Jenni spent a year working with Joyce Fields the then, head of department. As they were stored in her memory, when Joyce left so did the location of every item.

Jenni initially worked on her own and devised a method of recording the location of all items. She started with drawer 1 of 54, and noted the item and location. It proved to be an excellent way of getting to know the collection.

Eve Smart had previously compiled a spreadsheet of all items in the collection. Jim (Jenni’s husband) joined Jenni and started to enter the locations. He continues to do this and now works within Past Perfect, a dedicated data base for museums

Keith Webster, a former Primary school headmaster and professional photographer later joined the team. Keith became the spell checker and photographer. When Pat Torrington joined the team, Keith & Pat traveled up from Orewa each Wednesday together. Sadly Keith’s health eventually prevented his coming and Pat found other volunteer work in Orewa.

Nicola McLeod arrived and offered to work in Textiles. This happened to be a few days before a workshop for Northern Museums led by Rangi TeKanawa. Rangi was at the time New Zealand’s only trained textile conservator.

The textiles team are now a team of five having been joined by Dorothy Cooper & Barbara Pinfold.

In between arranging, installing and dismantling displays, accessioning new items and generally looking after the significant collection, they as a team have continued to work toward completing the project of photographing all items and noting the location. Almost 8000 items and 12 years later they are nearing completion !