Posts categorized as History

  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 »

Te Papa’s international textiles – Nigeria to New Zealand

East & West Missionary Exhibition label attached to one of the curios displayed there

East & West Missionary Exhibition A survey of the costume and textiles Te Papa’s International History collections now underway has shown that many of our collections from Africa and Asia retain links with an exhibition held almost 90 years ago.  In most instances, they have not been exhibited since then.  I’ve become fascinated by these… Read more »

Today is World Contraception Day!

Display case with one contraceptive pill stating 'the pill that changed the world' against a backdrop of visitors' comments 'Let's talk about sex'

World Contraception Day aims to improve awareness and access to the many contraceptive methods available, and to help people make informed choices about their sexual and reproductive health. Contraception: Uncovering the collection of Dame Margaret Sparrow is an exhibition at Te Papa which features just about every contraceptive device you can think of, from the… Read more »

What do you think of when you hear the words ‘human rights’? This week Te Papa hosted a fantastic and thought-provoking conference on human rights in museums with the theme: ‘Access is a human right’. Federation of International Human Rights Museums Speakers from around the world shared their experiences, and we shared ours – from… 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 »

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
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  • 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 »

Dreaming of the modern – Helen Hitchings

Photo of Helen Hitchings

It was while Helen Hitchings (1920-2002) was in hospital during the early 1940s that the idea of forming a gallery came to her. The Gallery of Helen Hitchings was opened in Wellington in 1949, her mission to promote an awareness of ‘good domestic design’, made by New Zealanders– up to date examples of modernism free… Read more »