The refurbishment of the Rotorua Museum has uncovered a handful of historical pieces including an early 20th-century newspaper and an old diary and inkwell.
Not only that, but the team was also on the hunt from some cheeky 1980s plasterers, who painted their names on a museum wall before it was covered over by roofing.
As layers were stripped from the museum walls and things moved around, decades-old treasures presented themselves after a lifetime of dust collecting.
A New Zealand Herald newspaper dating back to September 1906 was found inside the walls with advertisements like Schnapps that was hailed as “helpful as a medicine”.
The newspaper also had notices about patents and advertised Beethems Larola to “make the skin as soft as velvet”. There was even an advertisement for chocolate worm tablets and corn cure.
During construction of the Bath House building between 1906 and 1908 newspapers were placed within the walls to help with insulation.
Rotorua Museum project lead and Rotorua Lakes Council arts and culture manager Stewart Brown said they had found a number of “little treasures” during the deconstruction phase with some dating back to when the Bath House was first built in 1906.
Other objects dated between 1908 and 1966 when the building was The Great South Seas Spa were also located in the walls or in various nooks and crannies, he said.
“It is always exciting to make these discoveries and uncover a slice of history.”
He said it helped paint a picture of the unique building and everything it had seen over the last 112 years.
During deconstruction of the corridor near the old café, cheeky messages were left by contractors back in 1986 from previous refurbishments.
Craig Hiha and B. Little from Rotorua Plasterers appeared to have painted their names on a wall panel out of sight until now.
The names were uncovered as preparations began to reinstate heritage features in the museum.
Along with the newspaper clippings and tags, segments of original cornicing, as well as clay and cast-iron pipes, were found.
The Mudbath basement proved to be a treasure trove of antiques with gems including ledger pages and a diary along with an inkstand and ink wells.
A brush from under the men’s Doulton bath, a cigarette packet hidden behind the cupboard, old towels and a glass milk station bottle found in a room alongside ceramic tiles were also found.
The deconstruction had highlighted hidden heritage features that had previously been covered up in refurbishments.
High raking ceilings with skylights that had been in the original bathhouse had been covered by a lowered ceiling but would be reinstated during the new project.
Many of the larger heritage pieces, like the mudbaths, had been removed and safely stored, to reinstate them to the building once complete, Brown said.
A selection of smaller items would be kept at the offsite storage facility that may become part of future exhibitions, he said.
The Rotorua Museum Facebook page would showcase some more uncovered gems over the coming weeks.
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