Harry Skinner (ethnologist)

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Harry Skinner

Henry Devenish Skinner

(1886-12-18)18 December 1886
New Plymouth, New Zealand
Died9 February 1978(1978-02-09) (aged 91)
Dunedin, New Zealand
AwardsParker Memorial Prize
Percy Smith Prize in Anthropology (1925)
Hector Memorial Medal and Prize (1926)
Andre Medal (1936)
Honorary LittD Otago (1962)
Scientific career
FieldsAnthropology; ethnology
InstitutionsOtago Museum
University of Otago
Hocken Library
RelativesWilliam Skinner (father)
H.D. Skinner Annex of Otago Museum

Henry Devenish Skinner CBE DCM (18 December 1886 – 9 February 1978), known as Harry Skinner or H.D. Skinner, was a notable New Zealand soldier, ethnologist, university lecturer, museum curator and director, librarian. The son of William Skinner, he was born in New Plymouth in 1886.[1]

In the 1956 New Year Honours, he was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire, for services as director of Otago Museum and lecturer in anthropology at the University of Otago.[2]

The H.D. Skinner Annex of the Otago Museum, formerly the Dunedin North Post Office, was opened in August 2013, and named in honour of Skinner.[3][4] During his time at the museum, Skinner was responsible for adding more than 65,000 objects to the humanities collections, including purchasing a piece of HMS Bounty from one of Fletcher Christian's direct descendants.[5][6]

Skinner was one of 24,000 Anzac soldiers wounded at Gallipoli. In 2015, the Otago Museum opened the exhibition "Surviving Chunuk Bair: H. D. Skinner at Gallipoli'' using objects loaned by the Skinner family, including a sewing kit, medals, letters and photographs.[7]


  1. ^ Anderson, Atholl. "Henry Devenish Skinner". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 23 April 2017.
  2. ^ "No. 40671". The London Gazette (Supplement). 2 January 1956. p. 44.
  3. ^ Gibb, John (11 July 2013). "Museum annex set for opening". Otago Daily Times Online News. Retrieved 4 May 2019.
  4. ^ Gibb, John (8 August 2013). "Museum annex praised". Otago Daily Times Online News. Retrieved 4 May 2019.
  5. ^ Gibb, John (29 April 2011). "Tribute to former director". Otago Daily Times Online News. Retrieved 4 May 2019.
  6. ^ "Drama on the high seas". Otago Daily Times Online News. 24 May 2014. Retrieved 4 May 2019.
  7. ^ Gibb, John (8 August 2015). "Museum tie to war relics". Otago Daily Times Online News. Retrieved 4 May 2019.