Conserving and dressing 18th c. Splendour

  • Here we are carrying out the final fitting of both the dress to unsure that the garment is properly supported but not under any stress. At this point we can also adjust the final height of the ensemble and check the silhouette that has been created. Photo by S. Gatley, copyright Te Papa.
  • The near-finished mount, complete with silk petticoat, jersey top cover and sleeve supports. There are strong small magnets attached to the front which will hold the bodice section in position- These are needed as the dress doesn’t have any buttons or other fastening. The opposing magnets will be placed on the outside of the garment. These should be difficult to see as they will be coloured to match the dress.
  • The torso after it has been padded into the correct size and period shape. There is a cotton tube underskirt to hold out the multiple layers of net underskirts instead of legs! Photo by S. Gatley, copyright Te Papa.
  • The mannequin torso with the bust and waist cut away. A cotton cover is attached to the newly shaped form ready for padding to be stitched into place. Photo by Sam Gatey, copyright Te Papa.

A co-authored post by Anne Peranteau, Textile Conservator and Sam Gatley, Costume Mountmaker Historic dress, historic problems In 1951, Te Papa was given three 18th century dresses, all dating to approximately 1780.   Our work in the textile lab is currently focused on preparing two of these gowns for display in the Splendour module of Nga… Read more »

Pukerua Bay School Museum

A sketch (biro on cardboard) by Isaac in a faux rococo frame (hot glue on plastic).

The Pukerua Bay School Museum is one of Aotearoa New Zealand’s newest museums – the brainchild of three Primary school students: Isaac and Paddy (aged 11) and Aurelia (aged 9). Te Papa Learning Innovation has asked the three founders, with the support of their kaiako (teacher) Cat Lunjevich, to write a post for our Te Papa blog all about… Read more »

Remembering the Evergreen

Photo showing workshop meeting

Most Wellingtonians will remember the Evergreen Coffee House as a popular spot in the buzzing nightlife of the Vivian-Cuba Street quarter – where you could get late night toasted sandwiches and ‘special coffees’ served with whisky from the café’s owner, well-known transgender queen, Chrissy Witoko. The interior walls of the Evergreen were decorated with collages,… Read more »

How to deal with human DNA contamination of your DNA sequencing: an example from a Malawian dance garment.

Dance garment, c. 1900, Malawi (Chewa culture), Photograph by Kate Whitley. Copyright Te Papa MA_I.374711

You’ve probably seen forensic scientists on TV taking swabs and fingerprints from crime scenes. They aren’t wearing labcoats, hairnets and gloves to look cool but to prevent them contaminating their forensic evidence with their own DNA. But how do scientists deal with items that are already contaminated with unwanted human DNA? I recently encountered this… Read more »

Wildlife of Hautere/Solander Island

  • Fiordland crested penguin, Solander Island, May 2016. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa
  • A Buller’s mollymawk chick after a downpour, Solander Island, May 2016. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa
  • Hautere/Solander Island from the north-east, with Little Solander Island to the right. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa
  • Subadult male subantarctic fur seal on Solander Island, May 2016. The nearest large population of this species to New Zealand is on Amsterdam Island, 3,500 km west of Perth, Western Australia. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa

Hautere/Solander Island is a rugged, inhospitable lump of an island lying in the western approaches to Foveaux Strait. About 40 km south of Fiordland and 70 km north-west of Stewart Island, it is 1.6 km on its longest axis, with cliffs rising steeply to the 330 m summit. The only flat land is a 10 ha… Read more »

Hautere/Solander Island, The Capital of Albatrossness

  • Buller's Albatross flying at sea in a storm near Hautere/Solander Island. Photo Dominique Filippi, Copyright Dominique Filippi
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  • The campsite at the albatross colony on Hautere/Solander Island
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Its probably one of the most rugged small island sites around the Southern Ocean….lacking only a glacier to make it truly inhospitable. No huts, no trees, and best of all, no humans! And yet Hautere/Solander Island has something of a reputation of among seabird researchers. Most of the ones I have encountered, who had been there, said “What would possess… Read more »

Artists’ hands: messages from Chamorro artists of Guåhan

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“Slow it down…your minds and hands make it happen.” This is a message that master carver Jill Benavente passes onto to her apprentices as they journey together as artists. Their hands and the hands of many other artists are key tools in the strengthening and decolonising of contemporary indigenous Chamorro culture on Guåhan /Guam. For… Read more »

Hautere/Solander Island – 1933 and 2016 – In the footsteps of Edgar Stead (Part 12)

  • Red-crowned parakeet, Solander Island, May 2016. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa
  • Weka, Solander Island, May 2016. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa
  • Buller's mollymawk parents and chick, Solander Island, May 2016. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa
  • Buller's mollymawks in a gale, viewed from Solander Island, May 2016. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa

Edgar Stead (1881-1949) was a Canterbury naturalist famous (among other things) for exhuming the enormous Okarito blue whale skeleton now in Canterbury Museum, breeding the Ilam strain of rhododendrons and azaleas, and being an astute observer of New Zealand birds. His magnificent homestead ‘Ilam’ is now the Canterbury University staff club, and was the main… Read more »

There are times in the life of a curator when you see something you would really like to use in an exhibition or publication but have no immediate opportunities. Or you feel that your attraction to it is too personal, and other people wouldn’t feel the same way. So you tuck it away in your… Read more »