Posts categorized as behind the scenes

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

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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 »

1,500 mud pools: Theo Schoon’s geothermal photographs

Pebble pool at Whakarewarewa, circa 1966, by Theo Schoon. Purchased 2001 with New Zealand Lottery Grants Board funds. Te Papa (CA000812/001/0017/0001)

Last year, a four-year project to digitise nearly 1,500 Theo Schoon photographs of bubbling mud and thermal landscapes came to an end. Thanks to the hard work of Image Coordinator Lucy Jackson and Archivist Jennifer Twist all of these images can now be viewed on Collections Online. Jennifer and Lucy share some details of this monumental project… Read more »

Rongowhakaata: Borrowing from iwi to build the exhibition

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If you’ve ever wondered what’s involved when museums loan and borrow taonga, you’re in luck: our Loans and Acquisitions Advisor Amy Cosgrove sheds light on the process behind Ko Rongowhakaata: The Story of Light and Shadow, as well as revealing an ‘average’ day. What is your role and what does it entail? I am a loans and acquisitions advisor. With… Read more »

Conserving Rongowhakaata’s fragile ‘Iron Man’

Injecting stabilisers, 2017. Photo by Rachael Hockridge. Te Papa

One of the significant taonga exhibited in Ko Rongowhakaata: The Story of Light and Shadow is a nose-less poutokomanawa (centre post) called Rongotueruora, affectionately known as ‘Iron Man’ due to his iron shoulder pads and rāpaki (skirt). This taonga was in a very fragile state when conservator Nirmala Balram came to inspect him. Nirmala takes… Read more »

A trip to remote Tokelau: Life a few metres above sea level

Aerial view of Atafu atoll

The Pacific island nation of Tokelau is one of the most remote places on the planet, and, with the entire country sitting metres above sea level, one of the most under threat from climate change. Media creator Kate Whitley describes the journey to this vulnerable ‘necklace of small islands’. In November 2017 a small group… Read more »

Cigarette packets and chocolate boxes: How we used to store our collections

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Storing collections in the right space and environment is incredibly important in museums – so would you be surprised to see natural history specimens stored in colourful vintage cigarette packets? Curator Alan Tennyson and conservator Robert Clendon shed light on past practice. Modern museum storage involves rows and rows of uniform beige and grey boxes,… Read more »

‘It’s the objects that sparkle, not me’: A day in the life of an art collection manager

Anna Brookes in the art storerooms

Museum jobs are hugely varied and there are hundreds of us who work behind the scenes caring for collection objects and getting exhibitions ready. One of these roles is undertaken by our collection managers. Art collection manager Anna Brookes shares with us what she gets up to day to day and her tips for getting into… Read more »

How a museum mount maker secures the nation’s treasures

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Lots of works goes on behind the scenes to get objects ready for exhibition. Mount maker Callum Strong is tasked with creating mounts to display and protect the nation’s treasures. Here he explains the efforts that went into displaying the hīnaki, or eel trap, in our latest iwi exhibition, Ko Rongowhakaata: The Story of Light… Read more »