Crowds lured by vintage tech

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The ‘‘amazing engagement’’ of the Dunedin public has made the pop-up Retrowe Museum the most popular Urban Dream Brokerage project by far.
More than 1500 people have visited the Retrowe Museum since it opened in an unused shop space on George St (next door to Trade Aid), last Wednesday. The museum features some of the best items from Dunedin man Clinton Rowe’s extraordinary collection of vintage computers, gaming and technology.
Mr Rowe was delighted at the ‘‘fantastic’’ response from the public.
‘‘People are coming to the door with wide-open eyes and open mouths,’’ he said.
‘‘They love seeing and playing on all the video games here — it takes them back to the days of video parlours or the games consoles they used to have themselves.’’
Working under the Urban Dream Brokerage (UDB) programme, which aims to enliven the central city by bringing artistic and community projects into temporarily empty shop space, the establishment of the Retrowe Museum was supported by the Southern Heritage Trust.
Trust member Jonathan Cweorth, who worked with Mr Rowe to design and set up the exhibition, said it was important to support someone who ‘‘recognises the value of this technology’’.
‘‘This collection was all sourced within New Zealand — so it is a really representative collection of what people did and had in terms of technology,’’ Mr Cweorth said.
Sourced mainly online, over the past 15 years, Mr Clinton’s collection contains about 20,000 different items including more than 600 computers and video game consoles, 6,000 software titles, and 6,000 books and magazines. It also includes televisions, stereos and other domestic electronics and appliances.
Mr Cweorth said many people coming to the Retrowe Museum to see and play on the games were keen to see it become a permanent attraction in the city and the Southern Heritage Trust supported that notion. However, creating a permanent museum was ‘‘a big step’’ and would need institutional backing.
Urban Dream Brokerage Dunedin co-ordinator Tamsin Cooper said the two most recent projects had been ‘‘hugely successful’’. Last month’s Echoes exhibition at Wall St Mall had attracted more than 600 people and the Retrowe Museum had already surpassed that by a significant margin.
‘‘It has brought this space absolutely to life, and hopefully that is having a flow-on effect for other businesses nearby,’’ Ms Cooper said.
The Urban Dream Brokerage project relied on property owners to get behind it, and their support was ‘‘amazing’’, she said.
‘‘They are really helping to enliven the CBD, which is what this is all about.’’
The Urban Dream Brokerage project was always keen to welcome more submissions.
For more information, email udbdunedin@gmail.com – The Retrowe Museum will remain open daily from 10am to 6pm until this Sunday, September 25.