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The Nelson Provincial Museum – Collecting Contemporary Food Production and Retail

As part of our goal to collect ‘history as it happens’, one of the Museum’s strategic collecting focuses for 2022 relates to Nelson Tasman’s exciting and innovative food production and retail industry.


The Nelson Provincial Museum was honoured to receive one of the first four jars of Homegrown Pic’s Peanut Butter, made exclusively from peanuts grown in Aotearoa in 2021. This unique jar of peanut butter is an exciting contemporary addition to our collection, and it sits alongside other innovative products from our region like Proper Crisps’ compostable bags.

But how does one preserve an item of food for generations to come you may ask?

Preserving food related objects certainly presents some challenges to our team, as every object comes with its own vulnerability to damage or decay. But the museum is engaging with experienced and knowledgeable professionals at other institutions who successfully store food products in their collections.


The Stories Food Tell

As a Museum we tell the stories of our region through the items in our collection, and food related objects have many stories to tell. They have the ability to document the significance of the Nelson Tasman region and its innovators in food and drink, who manufacture on a national and global stage. Food can also tell stories of societal and environmental change, like the successful importation of foreign production techniques and cuisine from waves of immigration over time. Food objects also preserve traditions of the past, such as traditional Māori harvesting, methods of production, and the integration of traditional flavours and techniques within contemporary cuisine. And of course food, and the places in which we eat food, can tell stories about society at a certain point in time. Such as the experiences and events that happened within the four walls of Nelson institution, and well-loved restaurant, Chez Eelco which was open from 1961 – 2002. The Museum has a ephemera collection from Chez Eelco.

Climate Change

From a climate change perspective, these objects tell powerful stories about foods which were once plentiful but now rare, or foods that once could not thrive in Aotearoa but are now being grown commercially, like peanuts! They also tell stories of sustainable harvesting, of science supported farming and production, a return to traditional techniques of the past. Food producers are also adopting natural or biodegradable packaging and using alternative energy sources to operate farms and factories.

We Need Your Help!

The Nelson Provincial Museum is home to many photographs, archives and objects which tell the story of food production and processing in Nelson Tasman. The donation by Pic’s Peanut Butter, and the growing success of many recent and long term food and drink related businesses in the region, has inspired a strategic collecting focus on telling those contemporary stories.

We invite all regional food retailers, manufacturers and producers, restaurants cafes and related businesses (including food trucks!) to donate menus, photographs, ephemera, packaging, uniforms, objects or perhaps even a recipe to the collection. It is important that every item that comes into the museum has a story and applicable rights of use, so please contact us before sending in any items. We are especially keen on collecting material from Māori producers and retailers, and more recent immigrants to the region.

For more information or to contact our curators please go to and complete the online enquiry form.

Click here to find out more…

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