Paperskin – the art of tapa cloth exhibition is full of many wonderful tapa artworks.
But one Tongan tapa cloth (ngatu) in Te Papa’s collection is amazing because of its size – it is more than 22 metres long and over 4 metres wide. We have never been able to display it rolled out before – we didn’t have a wall big enough, until now….
This impressive tapa was made in 1953 to commemorate Queen Elizabeth II’s visit to Tonga, it was later placed under Queen Salote’s coffin when her body was flown back from New Zealand in 1965.
Installing such a large tapa is quite a mission. When it is in storage the tapa is kept carefully rolled up. It took a team of 10 staff (exhibition installers, collection managers, conservators and curators) and two fork lifts to get it safely hung on the wall.
Here are some images showing the team in action – taken by Kate Whitley, one of Te Papa’s photographers:
Take this opportunity to view this impressive ngatu – come in and see it for yourself in the Paperskin exhibition.