Welcome to the Cromwell Museum
Welcome to the Cromwell Museum which is located in the Cromwell Mall, Cromwell, Central
The Cromwell Museum was first initiated by a local historical group during the 1960s and
was housed in the Athenaeum Hall on Melmore Terrace from 1963 to 1985. The focus for
the Museum was largely goldmining and the early settlers to the area, as it was the
discovery of gold in 1863 that was to transform what was then known as ‘The Junction’ to a
busy and populated township. Chinese miners from Canton also arrived in 1865 establishing
a Chinatown on Melmore Terrace that was active from 1870 - 1920 . The Cromwell Museum
cares for many Chinese archaeological artefacts and objects that tell some of the stories of
the lives of these miners. A hand carved schist Chinese Grave Marker in the collection had its
origins in the Chinese settlement and was excavated in 1980. It was revealed that it
belonged to a man from the Toi Shan Province, Ning County.
Before the final filling of Lake Dunstan in 1992 for the Clyde Dam, that saw much of
Cromwell flooded, including historic Melmore Terrace and the Athenaeum Hall, the
Cromwell Museum relocated in 1988 to The Mall into a new purpose built building. An
archaeological excavation by New Zealand Historic Places Trust before the filling of the Lake,
has contributed much knowledge about early Cromwell and its inhabitants as well as
uncovering Moa bones from caves and middens.
Today the Museum has a research library and collection that spans the areas of domestic
and agricultural items, gold mining, dredging and coal mining, the formation of Lake
Dunstan, sub fossil deposits, moa bones, Chinese artefacts, and the Ron Murray
photographic collection. The collection has been built up through generous donations and
through the hard work of a dedicated team of volunteers, the collection can be publicly
accessed on eHive.