In 1975 Nigel and Teresa Ogle bought the 70 year old Tawhiti Cheese factory.
As a child, Nigel had delivered milk to the factory with his father in their farm truck, but he could never have imagined that he would one day convert that same building into a museum.
What started out as a hobby and a small private collection, grew rapidly with public demand to become the focus of an impressive visual history of South Taranaki.
The museum uses life size exhibits and scale models to capture the past in a series of super-realistic displays. All the displays – including the life size figures created from moulds cast from real people – are designed and built on the premises. In fact the ‚body shop‘ – a series of three studios viewed as part of the museum visit – is Nigel’s workshop where both scale model ‚dioramas‘ and all the life size figures are built. Friends, relatives and local people have been coerced into allowing a casting to be made from their features – creating the very real images that have become a trademark of the Tawhiti Museum.
The museum is divided into a series of themed galleries, each using scale and life sized models as well as artifacts, photos and test. All these displays are designed and built in the museum’s studios.
The smaller scale figurines are painstakingly sculpted in wax before a mould is made, allowing further copies to be cast.
Whether the subject is shipping, farming, railways of just a small corner of a colonial kitchen, the attention given to research and detail is the same. The settings and figures combine to create strong three-dimensional images of our past.
For Nigel the museum is „one big art project“ An ex-art teacher, he now finds outlet for his talents constantly developing new displays for the museum.
„I hope my enthusiasm for local history comes through the displays. I’m particularly aware of drawing children into the displays – they mustn’t feel museums are old buildings, full of old dusty junk. Historical display should be exciting and I’m always looking for more innovative ways of making it just that.“
Source: Nigel Ogle's Tawhiti Museum