Posts categorized as Collections Online

Today is World Habitat Day and this week is World Space Week. I’m observing both of these events by databasing bryophyte (moss and liverwort) botany specimens which are habitat for space travellers. Bryophytes are among the ‘preferred’ habitat for microscopic animals called tardigrades, otherwise known as waterbears or moss piglets.  Although, tardigrades aren’t that fussy about… Read more »

  Last week a small dazzling selection of headdresses belonging to Carmen Rupe (1936 – 2011), went on display at Te Papa. Carmen was a legendary transgender performer and brothel owner – the headwear represents her more flamboyant side.   Each headdress is part of an ensemble, specially selected by Carmen for Te Papa’s history collection…. Read more »

Curious: Miss Matilda Sanville – the smallest lady in the world


This portrait of Matilda Sanville – the smallest lady in the world (also known as ‘the Fairy Queen’) – was taken in Sydney in 1875 in connection with her appearances in the city and before her tour to New Zealand. The portrait uses known studio portrait conventions of the time to convey Sanville’s size (a… Read more »

Healing Te Papa’s Achilles Heel: George Dawe Redefined!

Dawe 1

Posh ignorance vs. best practice Art historians and curators can be obstinately wrong and obtuse even about great masterpieces. A notorious example is Leonardo da Vinci’s Lady with an Ermine (c. 1490) which should really be called Lady with a Ferret, but posh ignorance prevails. The best practitioners in the field are never afraid to… Read more »

More Macey – recent photography acquisitions


Te Papa recently acquired more cabinet card photographs by Blenheim photographer, William H. Macey. Macey’s photographs are a great example of the strength of photography occurring in the regional centres of New Zealand during the late nineteenth century and up to World War I. You can read more about Macey and see more of his… Read more »

Condoms in the trolley

Supermarket, Devonport, Auckland, 1977, by John Daley. Gift of John Daley, 2012.  © Te Papa (O.038942)

Does anyone remember having to go into a pharmacy and ask for condoms? 30 years ago today saw a massive change in how New Zealanders bought condoms – for the first time they became available on supermarket shelves. Until 1985, condoms were bought mainly from chemist shops. Boxes were either on display or customers had… Read more »

Long she reigned over us: Queen Victoria at Te Papa

  • Victoria 13
  • Victoria 12
  • Victoria 10
  • Victoria 9a

With Queen Elizabeth II’s lengthy reign (my entire lifetime, and more!) now overtaking that of Queen Victoria, it makes sense to look at some of Te Papa’s fascinating and diverse objects that relate to the earlier monarch and empress. I can’t hope to summarise what Queen Victoria was like – that requires not a blog… Read more »