On Sunday 13 October 2019, Katherine Mansfield House & Garden in Thorndon celebrated its reopening following five months of maintenance and redevelopment work. Beautiful weather encouraged a wonderful turnout with visitors making the most of the annual sale of plants propagated from the heritage garden and a cake to celebrate the 131st anniversary of Mansfield’s birth on 14 October 1888.
After 30 years of being open to the public, the birthplace of one of New Zealand’s most internationally acclaimed writers received some much-needed maintenance to ensure its preservation into the future. This included a new roof, repairs to exterior weatherboards and new exterior paint, along with the installation of a heating and ventilation system. The Category 1 Historic Place also underwent an interior refresh to give visitors a greater insight into the life and work of its most famous former occupant and her family. The project was funded by a Lotteries Environment and Heritage grant, a Stout Trust grant and private donations.
The Katherine Mansfield Birthplace Society worked with Dr William Cottrell, an expert in the furniture and interiors of 19th-century New Zealand, and used clues from the initial 1980s restoration to further explore the styles that would have appealed to a fashionable colonial family climbing the social ladder. Some incredible pieces of historic furniture were acquired to help illustrate the trends of the late 19th-century. A new permanent exhibition offers visitors the opportunity to delve deeper into Mansfield’s world, while a programme of changing exhibitions begins with The Doll’s House | Te Whare Tāre, an exhibition of dolls’ houses and miniatures that reflects Mansfield’s love of the miniature and her famous story.
Above images (L-R): The new permanent exhibition includes a timeline of Mansfield's life; cake to celebrate the 131st anniversary of Mansfield's birth, generously sponsored by New World Thorndon; a family enjoying the exhibition The Doll’s House | Te Whare Tāre.
We are entering an exciting phase of the Katherine Mansfield House. The collection has been moved into storage and the house is now closed to the public while we undertake redevelopment work. This includes a new roof, exterior painting and installation of a heating system.
The interior will be refreshed to provide a more engaging experience for visitors. You can follow our progress on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
Laurel Harris, former Vice-President of the Katherine Mansfield Birthplace Society, recently passed away. Laurel was a Board member of long standing and widely respected for her work with the Society.
She co-curated several exhibitions at the house: The Material Mansfield and co-edited the book of the same name; Playing in the Past (2010); Behind the Mask (2011) and Her Painted Words (2012).
Laurel's attention to detail, creativity, depth of research and work ethic were remarkable. She gave generously of her talents and we will miss her.
Our love and sympathy has been conveyed to her family.
Above image: Members of the Katherine Mansfield Birthplace Society, including Laurel Harris (back row, fourth from right), with the Governor-General Sir Jerry Mateparae, Lady Janine Mateparae and Mayor Celia Wade-Brown at a reception at Government House in 2013.
At a unique fundraising event held at Samuel Marsden Collegiate School on 13 March, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern talked with KMBS President Nicola Saker about her love of books and the importance of reading and literature.
This special event helped raise funds for developing educational programmes and resources for schools visiting the house following its scheduled redevelopment this year. We thank again our generous sponsors - Wellington City Council, Glengarry, Samuel Marsden Collegiate School, La Cloche and Fine Cuisine.
Above image: Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern speaking with KMBS President Nicola Saker. Credit: Rebecca McMillan Photography.
On Sunday 14 October 2018 we celebrated not only Katherine's 130th birthday, but also 30 years since Katherine Mansfield House & Garden opened to the public as a museum.
Since the House was restored under the stewardship of founder President Oroya Day, it has become a Wellington icon, and a place of pilgrimage for students and fans of Mansfield from New Zealand and all over the world.
The House prior to its 1980s restoration.
However, as is to be expected after 131 years standing and 30 years as a museum, the House is in need of some TLC and invigorated exhibition spaces. At a special function held on Katherine's birthday we were delighted to announce that with the support of Lottery Environment and Heritage and the Day Family Trust, in 2019 we will be undertaking refurbishment and redevelopment of the house.
Refurbishment will incorporate external restoration, including a refreshed paint job and some work on the roof. Inside, we will be undertaking a gentle refresh and refurbishment. We will be installing insulation and new heating methods in a way that is sympathetic to a Category 1 historic place, and moving the staff kitchen out of the original scullery, allowing better preservation and scope for exhibiting.
In addition to refurbishment, we will be refreshing all exhibition spaces in the house. Katherine Mansfield House & Garden will still be the Victorian house museum that our visitors love, but it will be reworked to provide a more engaging and informative visitor experience.
The House will be closed for around four months from Monday 29 April 2019 to carry out this work. A reopening date will be announced over winter 2019.
At our birthday celebrations we also announced the publication of Te Whare Tāre, a te reo Māori translation of KM's well known story, The Doll's House.
The translation was prepared by Dr Karena Kelly of the School of Māori Studies, Victoria University of Wellington. Karena has done a thoughtful and beautiful translation of this beloved story. We are very proud KMHG has been able to contribute to the body of NZ literature available in te reo Māori, and hope that this publication will be only the first Mansfield story that we translate.
We were privileged to have the book officially launched at the birthday function by Her Excellency, the Rt Hon Dame Patsy Reddy, Governor-General of New Zealand.
Te Whare Tāre is currently available in store at KMHG, and on our website.
Katherine Mansfield Birthplace Society25 Tinakori RoadThorndonWellington 6011New ZealandMap
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