Ashburton Museum: Women’s Institute memorabilia on display

The branch exhibits of the Mid Canterbury Women’s Institute take pride of place at the Ashburton Museum this spring with a special exhibit celebrating their efforts since 1930.

Institute members created 11 bays for the exhibit – called For Home and Country – and it also contains information on how the Women’s Institute started locally and nationally.

Each of the berries says something special about the women who have attended institute meetings and the events large and small in their lives. Items on display range from tea cups to homemade jam and Lady Diana memorabilia.
Members of the Institute had a private tour of the exhibition on Monday before it opened to the public.

Mid Canterbury Federation Women’s Institute President Mavis Wilkins was among those who saw the exhibit and said it was great that the project was able to move forward. Masks were worn and numbers were limited inside the museum’s Murney Room as members of the institute took a trip down memory lane.

The National Federation of Women’s Institutes celebrated its 100th anniversary in February and over the years up to 30 groups have operated around Mid Canterbury. Over time, some have merged or closed.

Ashburton District Council Community Services Director Steve Fabish said the story of the Canterbury Center Women’s Institutes was on display and he hoped people would visit them.

“There are many memories that are part of this exhibit and many family ties. These groups have played an important role in the social fabric of the neighborhood over the years.”

Institute members still meet regularly to share their skills and camaraderie, while having fun with theater, music and crafts.

The museum exhibit also includes clothing, photographs and the Rugby Cup, which was donated by the Mid Canterbury Rugby Union in appreciation of the catering services provided by members during the 1950 British and Irish Lions tour.

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