NZ Diary: Memorial Museum pics

I made another pass through Auckland’s (beautiful) War Memorial Museum yesterday, and while the mood of war & death that shrouds the many rooms, altars and shrines is both sad and frustrating (will we ever evolve as a species past murder and destruction, or is it forever hardwired into our DNA?), there’s still beauty to be found in the museum’s halls.

Auckland War Memorial Museum - World War 1 Sanctuary
The stained glass skylight in the World War I Sanctuary

Auckland War Memorial Museum - Altar in the Hall of Memories
The bronze altar in The World War II Hall

Auckland War Memorial Museum - Hall of Memories
Pots of rosemary symbolise remembrance in the Hall of Memories

You can see other pics I’ve taken at the War Memorial Museum here: Auckland War Memorial Museum

*NOTE: There’s been some local controversy as a recent museum director attempted to de-emphasise the “War Memorial” part of the Auckland War Memorial Museum title, and though I can empathise with why she would want to do so since the museum today functions better for the public as a science, history and culture museum than as a strict war memorial, tradition being what it is, and the fact that the museum was originally constructed with public funds to *be* a national New Zealand war memorial, makes turning its main focus away from war a difficult pill for many to swallow.

That being said, the museum continues to build upon its valuable cultural and natural history collection, and I think it’s best days are certainly ahead of it should it find the proper domestic support for a broad ranging Asia-Pacific cultural/historical agenda.


  • Liz

    Hi Nathan,
    I hope that this finds you well. These are wonderful photos and as well, I enjoyed the others to which you pointed the way.

    War in my opinion is the greatest evil upon earth. Like the Holocaust we must remember! We must go and visit those memorial that are built to memorialize the atrocities that we humans commit – even if I was not a part of it (in this case her). When a person has not been to war, they are likely to have little understanding of what war is or does. As a result her “feelings” are understandable – but she must be taught. I had a long (6 weeks), euphoric and exceptionally painful spiritual experience in 2005 that changed my life forever. It was initiated by conversations with a stranger – a Vietnam B-52 Bomber pilot. The result of this was a lengthy study of war and and 2-3 years of working with veterans, doing creative writing.

    Ah well, I babble on – just wanted to say hi! Liz

    • Nathan Branch

      Hi Liz –

      All is well in Auckland town. And thanks for the photo props. I’ve tried taking pics in the War Memorial Museum before, but the lighting is so dim (due to its treasure trove of natural and cultural objects that need protection from the harsh glare) that it makes it very difficult to take pictures without a tripod.

      And I’m not about to lug my tripod around with me all day, even if the museum staff would let me drag it in with me (which they probably wouldn’t).

      It’s difficult to walk through the museum’s halls, knowing that the beautiful monuments are dedicated to a hell of a lot of death and destruction. And the fact that the memorials encompass war after war can be depressing despite their obvious visual beauty.

      And that’s even without the inclusion of more recent conflicts.

      The good thing is that the wars end. The bad thing is that they keep starting all over again, no matter how nobly we attempt to memorialise and contain them