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MUSEUM OF SAMOA ONLINE PHOTO EXHIBITION BREAKS NEW GROUND

At the turn of the century the four Betham daughters, Katherina, Margaretta, Mary Ellen and Mathilda were the toast of Apia society. This photo shows two of the daughters - Margaretta Betham, at back on right, and Katherina Hufnagel (nee Betham), at front left - with their aunty Louisa Kronfeld (nee Silveira/de Silva) and their cousin Jennifer Kronfeld. (Credit: Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries. 31-58136)

The Museum of Samoa has launched a major online exhibition. To Walk Under Palm Trees – The Germans in Samoa: Snapshots from Albums, Part 1.

Curated by Auckland researcher and writer Tony Brunt in collaboration with the Museum, it tells the story of German-Samoan families and individuals in the turbulent 20th century through over 80 carefully-restored and captioned family photographs.

“We are excited to be hosting this exhibition” said Owen Martin, Collections Officer at the Museum.

“The family stories told through these photographs are gripping. They paint an intimate portrait of an important part of Samoa’s history.”

The exhibition exists only online – it is not accompanied by a physical exhibition.

The format is one of the first of its kind for a public museum and helps to achieve the Museum’s mission of sharing Samoa’s history and culture with a wide local and international audience.

The exhibition is the first of a multi-part exhibition that draws on family albums and photo collections, from New Zealand, Australia and Germany. Most of the images have never been seen before outside family circles.

Mr Martin said that the exhibition grew from voluntary work done by Mr Brunt, who is a descendant of former Apia residents, Theodore ‘Ki’ Brunt and Frieda Brunt (nee Schwenke), of Tanugamanono.

“Tony undertook the scanning and restoration of historic images from many family albums and collections in Auckland, with the intention of donating copies to the Museum of Samoa. The album owners have been happy for digital copies to be shared with the Museum and with the public. From this came the idea of a dedicated on-line exhibition.”

Tony - a former journalist with The New Zealand Herald - has grouped the exhibition into chapters or stories, with captions for each image.

One chapter tells the remarkable story of Fatu Frost of Fasito’outa, who voluntarily went into internment for five years to accompany German Governor Erich Schultz after the outbreak of the First World War.

The exhibition is possible with thanks to the Kronfeld-Parr, Bunge, Riethmaier, Sasse, Berking, Stunzner, Klinkmuller, Reye, Meiritz, Grapengiesser, Schaumkell, Spemann and Gebauer families, who have contributed their family photographs.



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