Posts categorized as History

Walking billboards: the pervasive impact of the common t-shirt

Counter-protestors Hinemoana Baker and Fionnaigh McKenzie wearing self-made t-shirts. Image copyright: Ann-Marie Stapp.

Collecting fraught and hard-fought aspects of history is part of our role here at Te Papa, and given that last month was Queer History Month, I thought I would look at the acquisition of the Destiny Church ‘Enough is Enough’ t-shirt. These t-shirts were collected in 2012 to be part of the Uniformity exhibition. Though… Read more »

Guess who’s coming to dinner? Ethel Tweedie’s celebrity table-cloths

What dinner party conversation riled up this well dressed gent?

Following a recent blog post featuring a suffragette signature handkerchief, I became curious about the origins of what is collectively known as ‘signature cloths’. Just when did signature cloths become ‘a thing’ and what was their purpose?  Rozsika Parker, author of The Subversive Stitch, describes signature cloths as a ‘female social tradition by which guests would embroider their signatures for their hostess to commemorate… Read more »

‘A taste of hell’: Cecil Malthus on the Somme

Cecil Malthus, 1914. Courtesy of the Malthus family.

Finding Cecil Malthus in a muddy shell hole at the end of Gallipoli: The scale of our war reminds visitors that many Gallipoli veterans like Cecil went on to face more hardship on the Western Front. Just over 100 years ago, in September 1916, Cecil fought in the Battle of the Somme – the New… Read more »

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 »