Tuesday, 19 May 2015

'Letter to the Editor' about the diorama

Today's Dominion (the Wellington-based national newspaper) carried a letter to the editor concerning our diorama of Chunuk Bair:

Gary Murdoch started by describing how he visited the diorama in the old Dominion Museum, and how everyone should see it.

He then went on to make a fair point, which coincidentally my sister-in-law and I had also discussed on Sunday when I showed her family around the diorama:
 ... I have one criticism though. Despite all the care and taken to get the model soldiers right in the Gallipoli diorama, the landscape itself lacks description.
It could be a scene from Makara coast or almost anywhere for that matter. Without much contrast, all geographical points merge into one another on Sari Bair Ridge, Gallipoli. 
Chunuk Bair, Baby 700, Battleship Hill, The Apex, The Nek, Rhododendron Spur are not identified yet they are central to our story.
How difficult would it be to put a little name-flag on each feature? There is not even an indication where the sea and Anzac Cove are.
There is a narrative on the glass surround, but it's extremely difficult to translate into what is happening on the ground.
Gary Murdoch, Karori
When I was showing my sister-in-law's family around, I had to begin the story by orientating them to where the sea was.  Once they could picture that, then following the narrative became more obvious.

I also like Gary's suggestion of some sort of method of naming the main features.

And isn't it terrific that there is enough interest in our diorama for it to inspire a letter to the editor of one of our main national daily newspapers!


  1. These issues have already been identified. A map is being produced to hang on the wall beside the diorama. It will place the diorama in geographic context, identify the main features and show the preliminary and subsequent battles, such as the Mounted Rifle Brigade attacks the day before.

    1. That's great.I think that will really help orientate people.

      I'm just so impressed that this letter writer felt so strongly that everyone should see the diorama, and that he had some ideas to make it easier. This shows the diorama is really engaging the viewers.

    2. Hi Rhys, Roly. I have to agree, even having been quite intimate with the whole attack, and having worked on the diorama, process I found it quite overwhelming, trying to explain it to my family. Even for military enthusiasts such as ourselves static maps can be hugely confusing. I found that the animated 3D map of Chunuk Bair (with projection from above) at Te Papa brought the whole attack into vivid life. Once my family had seen tha, t the diorama makes a lot more sense. What are the chances of duplicating that for the NZ Room?

  2. Ridiculous. There haven't been that many people machine gunned on Makara coast for ages...

  3. The mini me time lapse virtual diorama at Te Papa does a great job of showing the named features and the ebb and flow of units as time passes. Lots of 'ah hah' moments as you see 'on the ground' what you've read about in books.