Posts categorized as History

Digitally ‘restoring’ a WWII souvenir textile

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A faded embroidery shines again with the help of Photoshop. Textiles conservator Anne Peranteau discusses the process of digitally restoring colour to a faded Egyptian souvenir from World War II. In 2015, Te Papa acquired several items from the RSA (Royal New Zealand Returned and Services’ Association), some of which relate to the two World Wars… Read more »

The history of purple, from ancient Rome to women’s rights

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  • GH024772; Women's Social and Political Union Medal for Valour; 1912; Toye & Co.; silver; England
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  • Murex brabdaris University of Toronto

‘Ultra Violet 18-3838’ is 2018’s ‘colour of the year’, as selected by Pantone Color Institute. History curator Kirstie Ross looks at the symbolism of purple from ancient Rome to the fight for women’s rights. Ultra Violet 18-3838 ‘Ultra Violet 18-3838’ is 2018’s ‘colour of the year’, as selected by Pantone Color Institute. It more or… Read more »

‘Frown for the camera’: The unsettling gaze of the New Zealand wars wounded


Summer scholar Caitlin Lynch has taken a particular interest in a number of photos featuring soldiers badly wounded in battle. Caitlin speculates on why these photographs were taken, particularly after the battle of Te Ngutu o te Manu. Did these photographs generate public sympathy and encourage pensions? Or was it a statement of bravery, commitment, and sacrifice?… Read more »

History curator Stephanie Gibson has a particular interest in how tiny things can have big impacts – especially in protest movements. She talks through some of these objects which feature in Te Papa’s collection, but also her personal one. You don’t have to carry a big banner down the street to make your point – sometimes something tiny… Read more »

Playing Sherlock: How a chair unlocked the story behind a portrait of a New Zealand wars soldier


Summer scholar Caitlin Lynch has taken a particular interest in a 19th-century portrait of New Zealand wars soldier Frederick Rowan that we knew very little about. Caitlin describes how a breakthrough clue, in the form of an ornate chair, led to the intriguing story of the solider’s facial injury and reconstruction. The Gordon Collection The Gordon… Read more »

Last week, a new Assassin’s Creed game mode was released which vividly brings ancient Egypt to our living rooms. Science researcher Rodrigo Salvador explains how this game can educate as well as entertain, and dives into our own Ancient Egyptian collections. Egyptomania No ancient civilization has captured the public’s imagination more than Egypt. The pyramids, sphinxes, animal-headed deities, hieroglyphs, and the… Read more »

Remembering Te Papa’s opening day

  • Te Papa's opening day 14 Feb 1998. Te Papa
  • Entrance to the Time Warp, 1998. Te Papa
  • Steph's friend early morning at the opening, 1998
  • Crowds in front of Te Papa

20 years ago today, on 14 February 1998, Te Papa opened its doors for the first time. The day was marked by food, music, and celebration. Hay bales laid out on the forecourt lent the occasion a rural, and particularly Kiwi, flavour. New Zealand bands entertained the huge crowds. The sun shone, and the wind blew…. Read more »

Condoms, critics, and controversies: Te Papa’s early days

Protesters in Te Papa

14 Feb marks ours 20th anniversary. Author of ‘Te Papa: Reinventing New Zealand’s national museum’ Conal McCarthy retells some of the early criticisms, controversies, and protests when we opened in 1998. – Extract taken from the book Te Papa: Reinventing New Zealand’s national museum 1998-2018, published this month by Te Papa Press. Art lovers wanted a more… Read more »

Our Curator of Historical International Art, Dr Mark Stocker, is a big LEGO® fan: “I’m a geometrical kind of guy. I love eating Toblerone and if I drove a car it would be a Nissan Cube”. At Te Papa we’re currently hosting Brickman: Wonders of the World until 18 February. Mark therefore jumped at the opportunity to interview… Read more »