Explore the collection at Alberton

The collection at Alberton is representative of a wealthy family across the Victorian and Edwardian periods. Well-represented are high status objects such as early colonial furniture, fine bone china and silverware and works of art.

Standard domestic items from the Victorian kitchen are also on view.  There are a large range of toys, books, business records and family photographs and ephemera, which provide are more intimate glimpse into the individuals who lived in the house.  Many items reflect the family’s origin and progress across the world from Scotland, to India, to New Zealand. 

When entering Alberton one gets the impression that the family might return at any moment.  Wardrobes and drawers are full of clothes, side tables of cutlery and plates, and music books are on the piano.  Original preserves and bottled fruit are still in the pantry.  The tartan costume and original christening gown worn by all of the eleven children in the family and seen in family photographs are still in the nursery. Partially constructed garments are visible in the sewing room.  The family’s interests in entertaining, music, sports, farming and hunting are still represented on display.

The house was occupied until the early 1970s by Muriel, youngest daughter of Sophia and Allan Kerr Taylor.  After Sophia’s death she lived in the house with two of her sisters, all unmarried, and the group were renowned for living a frugal existence much as they had lived in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  As such, the contents of the house are believed to be mostly original.

Please note that due to conservation reasons not all objects may be on public display at any one time. If you are interested in viewing an item, please contact the Property Manager.  

Heritage New Zealand manages its collection of historic objects in its properties from a central database.  You can find out more about the how the Heritage New Zealand collection is managed, including donating items on this website.

To see further highlights from the collection online, search for Alberton at New Zealand Museums

  • Patty's book

    In contrast to his second wife, the forthright and long-lived Sophia Kerr Taylor, little was known about Alan Kerr Taylor’s first wife Martha, known as Patty, who died shortly after the birth of her second child.  The pair had been married for less than two years, and Patty never saw Alberton in its finished glory.  Apart from a handful of photographs and a few books, little survives to give us any insight into Patty’s character.  This book dates to her time in London prior to emigrating to New Zealand.  Along with haircuts, church services and notes about the weather, she writes of purchasing William Swainson’s book ‘New Zealand and the War’ – perhaps in excited preparation for her life in a new land.

  • Swimsuit

    This natty men’s two-piece number dates to the early 20th century and features bold orange stripes – a contrast to the usual muted blacks and navy blues.  Swimsuits are rare in Heritage New Zealand properties – but the collections still contain dozens of photographs from the 19th century of Kiwis picnicking, at the beach, camping, and engaging in all the pursuits still in practice today.

  • Bagatelle game

    The Kerr-Taylor family of Alberton engaged in typical Victorian pastimes.  This bagatelle board was a precursor of the pinball machine and is also related to billiards.  The game involved driving a number of balls around pins and into holes, using a long cue.  Alberton’s example is a very small version of the game.  Some wealthy Victorian households bought full-sized wooden tables.

  • Horse and cart toy

    This small wooden horse and cart toy, located in the historic 1863 house Alberton in Auckland, has special significance for the Kerr Taylor family - who owned and donated the house to Heritage New Zealand in 1972.  The 500mm long x 160mm high folk art stylised item was purchased for Donald Kerr Taylor, by his Aunt Muriel, in 1912 when he was four years old.  Following the death of Donald, the toy was returned to Alberton in 2007.