Posts categorized as Conservation

How a museum mount maker secures the nation’s treasures

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Lots of works goes on behind the scenes to get objects ready for exhibition. Mount maker Callum Strong is tasked with creating mounts to display and protect the nation’s treasures. Here he explains the efforts that went into displaying the hīnaki, or eel trap, in our latest iwi exhibition, Ko Rongowhakaata: The Story of Light… Read more »

‘Please do not bite the books’ and other comical library rules

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Would you walk into a library with a dirty face? Take a bite out of one of the books? Or LIE to the librarian?  Librarian Martin Lewis (@rarebookguy) reveals comical library rules from history and shares his five commandments to ensure happy books and librarians.  No dirty faces and no lies in the library Libraries have funny… Read more »

A grisly grizzly bear tale for World Animal Day

  • Jar, 1850-1860. England. Te Papa CG000578
  • Jane Dodd, A Jungle Incident, 2014. Photo Studio La Gonda.
  • Jane Dodd, Polar Pranks, 2012. Te Papa 2012-0022-1
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On World Animal Day, which aims to bring attention to the plight of animals worldwide, Claire Regnault, Senior Curator History, explores the work of Jane Dodd – a jeweller whose exquisitely rendered work draws on the cruel history of blood sports. Blood Sports Jane Dodd is a contemporary New Zealand jeweller, who throughout her career has… Read more »

Hit rate high in high-country forget-me-not search

  • Ant and Zuri have found the perfect spot to make some research collections for the museum, near Rainbow ski field, January 2017. Photo by Jessie Prebble.
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  • Botany girl power! Zuri, Jessie and Heidi searching for Myosotis laeta in the Red Hills, January 2017. Photo by Ant Kusabs @ Te Papa (SP105625).
  • Ant finding yet another plant to add to the collection at Te Papa, Rainbow Ski Field, January 2017. Photo by Heidi Meudt @ Te Papa.

Field work is a key part of scientific research at Te Papa. Each year, Research Scientist Heidi Meudt spends about three weeks in the field collecting specimens for her taxonomic research on native New Zealand forget-me-nots (Myosotis). In January 2017, she travelled to three main areas in northern South Island (Cobb Valley, Mt Owen and ranges around… Read more »

Extracting DNA from dried plants – with an eraser

Hen and chickens fern after sampling with an eraser. This species has delicate fronds so the stem was sampled instead. Sampling site is arrowed.

Until now, it hasn’t been possible to get the DNA out of a pressed dried plant (herbarium specimen) without destroying part of it by removing a leaf and grinding it up.  But new research by scientist Lara Shepherd has proven that you can use an eraser to ‘rub off’ the DNA. Read Lara’s paper A non-destructive DNA sampling technique… Read more »

Putting the pieces back together after the earthquake

A lady in a white lab coat paints a canoe prow

On 14 Nov 2016 an earthquake registering 7.8 on the Richter scale shook Wellington awake. All-in-all Te Papa’s buildings and its collection were virtually unscathed. Out of over two million collection objects, only nine were damaged. One of the damaged objects was a plaster cast replica of an 18th century tauihu (canoe prow). Charlotte Jimenez,… Read more »

Mysteries of the Phantom wooden shield: Putting together the pieces

Black lines following holes in the painted wooden surface, suggesting the probable pattern of lashing from a historic decorative scheme. Image created by Cat Williams.

Conservator Catherine Williams is investigating one of Te Papa’s recent acquisitions – a painted wooden shield from Papua New Guinea featuring The Phantom – from a conservation perspective, and blogging about it along the way. If you missed her first post, read it here. Uncovering the mysteries of a collection item such as the Phantom… Read more »

Collaboration in conservation: Deborah Crowe and Kim Fraser’s Dual Outlook

  • Kim Fraser and Deborah Crowe. Image provided by D. Crowe.
  • GH006532/4, Dual Outlook visor after treatment.
  • Underside of visor edge, showing sticky, soiled adhesive residue. The maker’s label is a separate layer and remains in place following treatment.
  • Deborah Crowe consulting on the treatment of her work in the textile conservation lab at Te Papa.

Te Papa’s textile conservator Anne Peranteau runs through the process involved in preparing a much-loved garment for public display. In March, the exhibition When Dreams Turn to Gold: The Benson and Hedges Fashion Design Awards will open at the Dunedin Public Art Gallery (DPAG). The Benson & Hedges event was New Zealand’s premier fashion competition, running for 34 years… Read more »

Plague skinks invade the Coromandel

  • Marlborough green gecko (Naultinus manukanus). Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa
  • Plague skink (aka rainbow skink). Papa Aroha, January 2017. Image: Colin Miskelly
  • Copper skink (Oligosoma aeneum). Papa Aroha, January 2017. Image: Colin Miskelly
  • Shore skink (Oligosoma smithi). Papa Aroha, January 2017. Image: Colin Miskelly

In my previous blog I listed four Australian bird species that have colonised the Coromandel Peninsula in the last four decades. But it is not only birds that are contributing to the Aussification of northern New Zealand. Australian plague skinks are now dominating the local lizard fauna. New Zealand lizards New Zealand has an astonishingly… Read more »