Posts categorized as History

The joy of dressing up – a look through our photography collection

9 people in Pierrots (clowns) outfits

With the World of Wearable Art Show (WOW) in town, and fantastic costume art in Te Papa’s store windows, we were inspired see what creative costumes we have in our photography collection. Mr A. Mason wearing a ‘poster’ costume for the Empire Tea Company’s Crescent brand, which was described in advertisements of the time as… Read more »

The power of lace – making European Splendour 1500-1800, Te Papa

Maker unknown, lace collar, linen, Europe. Gift of Mrs M W Aitken, 1970. Te Papa (PC001724). © photographer Justine Olsen.

Lace is fascinating for its changing and divisive role in history. Desired for its beauty and admired for its technical expertise, the best quality was restricted in use for monarchs and nobility.  While sumptuary laws during the 1500 and early 1600s claimed to protect local industries, lace actually helped identify social rank of the individual…. Read more »

Yes to a 164-year-old wedding dress and waistcoat

Textile conservator Anne Peranteau prepares William and Sarah Rhodes wedding waistcoat and dress for display. 27 Sept 2016. Te Papa

Tuesday 27th September was an exciting day for the History team, as we welcomed descendants of prominent nineteenth-century Wellington entrepreneur William Barnard Rhodes and accepted two remarkable items into our collection. Rhodes’ great, great, great grandson Rupert Ryle-Hodges travelled from England to present to Te Papa a silk brocade wedding dress and waistcoat, worn by… Read more »

Bring on the bum roll… Dressing for Splendour

Robe à l’anglaise retroussé or English-back gown, 1770-1780. Te Papa.

Bottoms have been in the news again lately. The conversation has been around what must be the 21st century’s most famous derrière, that of American celebrity Kim Kardashian. Indeed, in May she received a Webby award for ‘breaking the internet’ – a feat achieved with a bare-bottomed shoot for Paper Magazine. More recently British actress Helen Mirren chimed in, praising the celebrity for promoting another body… Read more »

Queer History objects

Poster titled 'Queer the Night' featuring a unicorn leaping across the moon, trailing a rainbow.

As we near the end of Queer History Month, I’ve been thinking about how objects at Te Papa work together to illuminate aspects of LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex) life in New Zealand. One particular aspect I’ve noted is how society can both celebrate and marginalise particular groups of citizens regardless of legislation… Read more »

Pukerua Bay School Museum visit European Splendour

Entering Splendour, Photograph by Justine Olsen, © Te Papa

The European Splendour 1500-1800 exhibition opened on Friday 16 September in Ngā Toi | Arts Te Papa. Our friends from Pukerua Bay School Museum: Aurelia (aged 9), Paddy (aged 11), Isaac (aged 12) and their teacher Cat Lunjevich, came to visit and spent time in conversation with our curators Justine and Mark. They have kindly written this post… Read more »

Marking Suffrage Day – remembering Frances Parker


Today marks the anniversary of women’s suffrage in New Zealand. 123 years ago New Zealand became the world’s first self-governing country to grant all women the right to vote in parliamentary elections. (It is worth noting, however, that although New Zealand women were the first to be granted the vote, women in the Cook Islands were the… Read more »

Wenceslaus Hollar: etching the 17th century

Etching - 17th century

Hollar vs. Lindauer So, you think Gottfried Lindauer is the most significant Czech artist in Te Papa’s collection? Wrong, certainly in terms of world fame, quantity and arguably in quality too! In Collections Online, Lindauer is trounced 68-21 by Wenceslaus Hollar (1607–77), whilst in our new Ngā Toi exhibition, Splendour, there are six Hollars alone… Read more »

The Battle of the Somme, September 1916: survival and loss


Guest blogger and long-serving, recently retired Te Papa history curator Michael Fitzgerald introduces the Battle of the Somme, and one man who survived the ferocious fighting that occurred there 100 years ago and another – one of Te Papa’s ‘Berry Boys’ – who lost his life. As visitors leave Gallipoli: The scale of our war… Read more »