Coromandel Museum

The School of Mines and Historic Museum in Coromandel is located no more than a gentle 10-minute walk from the main town centre. It's located in the old School of Mines, which was established in 1897.

Coromandel Museum
Opening day of the fountain in front of the Nurses' Home, circa 1940s. Image from the Coromandel Museum collection, used with permission.

Town resident Gordon Allington formed a committee and raised money from local businesses and interested people, and secured funding by the Mines Department and a grant from the Ministry of Tourism to turn the old School of Mines, which had been sitting empty for several years, into the museum.

A number of objects in the collection come from Marjorie Ruby Moore née Preece. She spent part of her life collecting a range of things, including family, domestic, farming memorabilia, which were all in a shed on her property as a private museum. In 2007, she bequeathed the collection to the School of Mines and Historic Museum.

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Half a cockroach in a test tube. Image used with permission.

I will admit I was in Coromandel on holiday rather than for work, but I can never give up the opportunity to go and visit a museum and see what they've got relating to medical history. There were a few great things, including half a cockroach in a test tube that had been removed from the ear of a local resident in 1994 at Coromandel Hospital.

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A former Coromandel Ambulance cliff rescue stretcher. Image used with permission.

The museum’s property contains several buildings in addition to the old school. If you’re reading this thinking you have already been to the museum so don’t need to go again – there are new things to see. In 2012, a new building was opened to coincide with the centenary of the discovery of gold in the area and to house the museum's growing collection. The latest addition to the museum is the dairy, which was donated to the museum in 2020.

The second building you enter at the museum includes remnants of the old Coromandel Hospital. In fact, at the museum, for $2 you can purchase a booklet about the history of Coromandel’s hospitals from 1868 to 1998. The museum volunteers were kind enough to gift me a copy, which prompted a second visit to the museum to pick it up.

The museum, like many others, is entirely reliant on admission fees to keep the place operating. If you are in Coromandel, go to the museum and pay the entry fee. You could spend a good hour, at least, exploring the history of Coromandel District and Coromandel Town. If you have an interest in gold mining, the history of farming, the establishment of the town, brass bands, local schooling, or medical history, there is something for you. Fun fact: during the 1918 Flu pandemic, Coromandel town all but shut its land and sea borders resulting in no cases of flu. The closest the virus got was the town of Manaia, several kilometres to the south. If you didn’t know that, it is time to pay the museum a visit.