• The Capsule was left by John Cornfoot Brodie

On 8 April 2021, while drilling inside the walls of the Sarjeant Gallery at Pukenamu Queen’s Park the drill unexpectedly hit and broke a glass jar hidden out of sight inside the wall. Remarkably the jar contained a time capsule that had been placed inside a wall cavity 103 years earlier by John Cornfoot Brodie (b.1859, d.1930), Clerk of Works on the original Sarjeant Gallery building project.

It quickly became apparent that this was not an official civic time capsule but instead a deeply personal selection of items relating to Brodie, his family and the Sarjeant building project.

The most significant item included in the time capsule is a letter written by Brodie, dated 28 January 1918, where he expresses his concerns regarding the lack of acknowledgement of the young architect student, Donald Hosie (b.1895, d.1917) who was responsible for the winning design in the Sarjeant architectural competition. He goes on to say that others including the foreman, contractors, chairman of the Committee and leading solicitors share his opinion.

Alongside the letter were family items of Brodie’s: a photograph by Frank Denton of Brodie with his two sons (Archibald Douglas Brodie and Henry George Brodie); a postcard sent from France by Henry George in 1917; a clipping from the Auckland Weekly News dated 12 July 1917 featuring a photograph of Henry George; and 2 of Brodie’s business cards. As well as items unearthed from the Pukenamu Queen’s Park building site: part of a clay pipe and a metal button possibly from the 58th Rutlandshire Regiment and the later Armed Constabulary stationed at the stockade on the site from 1847 – 1887; and 10 sycamore seeds. A rare Sarjeant Art Gallery architectural competition report, published December 1916, as well as a copy each of Wanganui Herald and Wanganui Chronicle, both dated 21 September 1917 (the day after the foundation stone was laid) were also in the capsule.

Opening Hours

  • Monday - Sunday, 10.30am - 4.30pm


  • 38 Taupō Quay
  • Whanganui 4500