One of Hanna’s most favorite things in all of Christchurch is located inside the Canterbury Museum. This museum has many areas: natural history (think giant stuffed animals behind glass), art, and cultural history. Hanna’s favorite part is tucked away in its own little spot.
Way back in the ancient twentieth century, a Kiwi couple named Fred and Myrtle Flutey lived in the southernmost town in the South Island. Fred would use paua shells (the shiny coverings of sea snails) as ashtrays and would then leave them all over the house, and this drove Myrtle crazy. She yelled at him to pick up the shells so she could vacuum. Fred’s solution? Nail them to the wall of their living room. The collection quickly grew, and the walls of the entire room were covered in shells. Word spread about their collection, and tourists would come to visit. Busloads arrived, and the Fluteys became Kiwi celebrities (clearly the Ice-T and Coco of their day).
After they passed away in the early 2000s, an exact recreation of their living room has been made in the Canterbury Museum…and Hanna cannot get enough of this sweet couple:
Paua House. Organ Music (Fred’s Favorite) Plays as You Walk Through.
We saw this exhibit three years ago, and Hanna would refer to the beautiful shells as “paula shells”. We have no idea why. Hanna’s one goal upon our return to New Zealand was to obtain a paula shell, and she is proud that Ms. Abdul is proudly in our backpack now.
Hanna and Paula. (No, Hanna Didn’t Steal a Shell from the Wall.)
The Paua House wasn’t the only reason why we like the Canterbury Museum. They currently have an exhibition about street art:
Love the Random Staring Child.
Included in the exhibition are about twenty pieces by Banksy. Back in October 2013, Banksy took over the streets of New York and left a new piece of art somewhere in the city each day. We saw a few of them, but our favorite story goes as follows: a table was set up in Central Park with Banksy originals. No one really knew it was his art, so only a few pieces were sold. Two were bought by a Kiwi woman who was living in New York at the time, and she only paid US $60 for each one. These paintings are now worth about US $325,000 combined. She has lent them to the Canterbury Museum as part of the street art exhibition, so it was cool to feel a little piece of New York while in Christchurch:
The Two Banksy Paintings on Sale in Central Park. If We Would Have Bought One Back in October, Maybe We Could Have Traveled Longer. Hindsight.
Banksy famously posted his own art in various museums around the world to see if people would notice. The Canterbury Museum took a cue from Banksy and placed things that shouldn’t be there in other permanent exhibits:
Hello (Waving) Kitty.
Somehow SpongeBob Snuck into an Underwater Diorama. (We Know, We Know. Crappy Picture.)
Julius Haast (Founder of the Canterbury Museum and the Namesake of Our Favorite Kiwi Town) Was Somehow Able to Log on to Facebook in the Nineteenth Century.
We had a ball searching high and low for these aberrations. One weekend the museum hid 36 tokens in the adjacent gardens, and if you found one, you would win an original piece of art by a local street artist. Very cool indeed. We were bummed to find out that this took place the previous weekend…because you KNOW we would be all over that shit.