Posts categorized as behind the scenes

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 »

At Te Papa we’re constantly photographing our collection items – whether that be art works, historical objects, or scientific specimens.  Recently, our imaging specialist Jean-Claude Stahl has taken pictures of some bizarre creatures – water bears, also known as tardigrades. Here, Jean-Claude explains why photographing a water bear is such a ‘bugbear’ and bug expert Phil Sirvid fills us in… Read more »

Cliff Whiting: Visionary, innovator, tōhunga, teacher, scholar, master artist

Man stands in foreground with marae in the background

It is with enormous sadness that Te Papa acknowledges the passing of Cliff Whiting (6 May 1936–16 July 2017). His contribution to Te Papa and the arts in Aotearoa was immeasurable. An esteemed teacher and practitioner of Māori arts, Cliff was appointed Director Director Bicultural Relations for the Museum of New Zealand in 1993, and… 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 »

The heaviest, smallest, oldest, and smelliest books in our library

small-book-parrot-2017-te-papa-2000

Our Research Librarian Martin Lewis, aka @RareBookGuy, takes a look at some of the more unusual questions he has received on tours of the Te Papa library collection. Part of my role at Te Papa includes giving tours, working with school groups, and hosting visiting researchers. You can never predict what visitors will ask on a tour,… Read more »

Curating to heal: Ways of creating sovereign spaces in museums

Dominion Museum Education Service School Case. Black and white file print from negative MA_B.010164. Te Papa

Mātauranga Māori curator Matariki Williams discusses the role of curators healing past wrongs, something being addressed in our new exhibition about motherhood and Māori women. At Museums Australasia last year, a conference convened by the New Zealand and Australian museums associations, visiting Metis academic and artist David Garneau interrogated the etymology of the word ‘curate’. Garneau… 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 »