A digital time capsule

The 2010 Canterbury Time Capsule Project is a collection of letters, photographs and poems from people all over Canterbury, describing their experiences during the 4 September earthquake and their hopes for the future. 

Background material from the project and letters from community leaders are available to view now, but the remainder of the material has been embargoed until 4 September 2060, fifty years after the initial Canterbury earthquake. In this way, it acts like a traditional time capsule, intended to preserve a moment in time for future generations to contemplate, but it is also has a modern twist, for this time capsule is not stored in the ground, but digitally.

Originally, the time capsule was intended to be kept in the Canterbury Museum. The project was created by Argene Montgomery-Honger, a member of the Canterbury community who experienced the 4 September earthquake personally. Argene first envisioned the Time Capsule Project to be a small collection of letters and items to be sealed away for fifty years, but the enthusiasm she heard when talking about the project encouraged her to think bigger and make this opportunity open to everyone affected by the earthquake. On 4 September 2011, one year after the initial earthquake, the capsule would be sealed and placed in the museum, not to be opened until 4 September 2060.  The public was encouraged to send in letters, photographs, drawings and poems about the earthquake, or drop them off at the letterbox (aptly decorated to resemble a chimney) in the museum's foyer.

Unfortunately, as we all now know, Mother Nature had other plans for Christchurch, and on 22 February a large aftershock occurred, severely damaging the central city and resulting in the temporary closure of the Canterbury Museum. This changed the nature of the project - not only because the time capsule could no longer be stored in the museum, but also because the experiences and feelings of Cantabrians changed so drastically that day.

The 2010 Canterbury Time Capsule Project has become more important than ever. More than just showcasing the experiences of the Canterbury earthquakes, it now documents an important and interesting part of our history often overshadowed by the events that were to come. It shows a city filled with hope, with relief and joy and a community banded together. We hope that this is what future generations see when the capsule is finally opened.

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Photograph by Canterbury Time Capsule 2010 Project, licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.