Air Force Museum of New Zealand

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The Air Force Museum of New Zealand, formerly called The Royal New Zealand Air Force Museum, is located at Wigram, the RNZAF's first operational base, in Christchurch, in the South Island of New Zealand. It opened on 1 April 1987, the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the RNZAF, and is primarily a museum of the Royal New Zealand Air Force, its predecessor, the New Zealand Permanent Air Force and New Zealand squadrons of the Royal Air Force.

Air Force Museum of New Zealand
Air Force Museum of New Zealand

The Museum holds the national collection of the Royal New Zealand Air Force. The collection includes objects covering the early days of New Zealand military aviation both prior to World War I and during this major conflict, the interwar years which saw the formation of the RNZAF in 1937, New Zealanders who fought in the RAF and in other Allied air forces during World War II, the RNZAF's campaign in the Pacific, and the post-war period to the present day. The collection also includes objects from former enemy forces, aircraft, aircraft components, aircraft engines, large objects, textiles, art and memorabilia as well as an extensive paper and photographic archive.

Air Force Museum of New Zealand
Air Force Museum of New Zealand

The Museum is free admission. Visitors can take a "Restoration Tour" through 'behind the scenes' areas of the Museum including the Restoration and Reserve Collection hangars. The Museum currently has three aircraft restoration projects; the p-40 Curtiss Kittyhawk, the Airspeed Oxford, and the Vicker's Vildebeest. The Museum has also has a Mosquito Flight Simulator, which features a mission based on the Allied bombing of German battleships in the Norwegian fiords.

Air Force Museum of New Zealand
Air Force Museum of New Zealand

In addition to preserving New Zealand's military aviation history, the Collections team is also responsible for presenting exhibitions and displays which illustrate various aspects of the RNZAF's history. This includes the semi-permanent displays in the Atrium and the Mezzanine, the Horizon Gallery and the Aircraft Hall. In addition to the semi-permanent displays, the Museum provides two changing exhibitions each year in the Cochrane Gallery.

Air Force Museum of New Zealand
Air Force Museum of New Zealand

The Museum undertakes preservation and conservation of objects in its collection. The general principle we apply is one of minimum intervention. Wherever possible objects are stabilised and maintained in an 'as is' condition, rather than subject them to intervention measures that are irreversible. Large objects such as aircraft and vehicles will usually be displayed in an 'as in service' condition so that their identity is maintained. Removing corrosion, however, is a necessity and this may require intervention in theform of restoration or reconstruction. However, every attempt is made to preserve or use original material wherever possible.

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