Pedalling to freedom: 19th century cycling dress for women

While out on a brief waterfront expedition, my colleagues Rosie and Kate demonstrated that ‘hat hair’ is definitely a smarter option than the joys of feeling the wind in your hair. Photo: Rachael Hockridge, Te Papa.

“A woman on a bicycle – legs astride – threatened 19th-century definitions of feminine respectability.” History Curator Claire Regnault dives into the contentious history of ladies on bicycles. Frocks on Bikes I have recently become a born-again cyclist, following a 10-year hiatus. While I envisioned myself becoming part of the Frocks on Bikes movement – elegantly cycling along in a… Read more »

Today is Pink Shirt Day, “a day about working together to stop bullying by celebrating diversity”. Collections Data Technician Gareth Watkins talks about the significance of the day, and finding strength in our collections. I’m really proud of Te Papa for being part of this year’s Pink Shirt Day. It’s important because it sends a clear message… Read more »

How many species of the confusing shrub toropapa are disguised in the bush?

Toropapa flower, Whangaroa. Photo by Leon Perrie. Te Papa

Toropapa (Alseuosmia) is a genus of shrubs found only in New Zealand. Toropapa has been confusing botanists for over 100 years because they show extreme variation in leaf shape – even between plants considered to be the same species from a single location! Te Papa scientists Lara Shepherd and Leon Perrie, along with the Department of… Read more »

The decade-long journey of our whales exhibition

Whales Tohora Baleines sign Ottawa 2012. Photographer Pat Stodart Te Papa

After a decade in North America, our Whales | Tohorā exhibition is making its way back south through the Pacific. For anyone who can’t recall the exhibition – it finished showing at Te Papa in May 2008. Here’s a brief recap from Pat Stodart, Touring Exhibition Manager. So what’s inside Whales | Tohorā? The exhibition highlights… Read more »

‘I’ve never seen the gallery like this before’: Experiencing Toi Art through dance

Woman poses in front of Portrait Wall mirror reflecting back to the viewer

Transfixed by BodyCartography Project’s Walk with me tour of Toi Art, Head of Exhibition Renewal Frith Williams wrote down her thoughts in the middle of the night, “so I could remember it later.” Here’s what she wrote. Open. Her face through a gap in a wooden sculpture. It’s the perfect frame – two arms cradling her head…. Read more »

Māori kākahu (cloaks): When is a korowai not a korowai?


During the last week, there have been many conversations circulating through different media and social networks about our Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern wearing a kākahu (cloak) at the recent Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting. Kaitiaki Māori Collection Manager Mark Sykes explains the differences between kahu huruhuru, kahu kiwi, kahu kuri, and korowai. Last Friday international media such as… Read more »

Illustrations of the Grand Canyon – our retiring librarian’s favourite rare book


Librarian Christine Kiddey retires this week after 26 years at the National Museum and Te Papa. “The length of my time here is just about equivalent to Te Papa’s formal history – the Museum of New Zealand Act was 1992,” she says. “However, I think Te Papa will far outlast me!” Here, Christine chooses her… Read more »

Buried alive on the Somme, the story of Lottie Le Gallais’ other brother

Leddie and Owen Le Gallais

To mark Anzac Day, and the third anniversary of the opening of Gallipoli: The scale of our war, the exhibition’s lead curator Kirstie Ross shares the story nurse of Lottie Le Gallais’ other brother Owen, who was buried alive during the Battle of the Somme in September 1916. Three years ago, Gallipoli: The scale of… Read more »