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Very rare indeed: a Malawian dance garment

  • Hair fibers from each respective sampled area, GH024606; shown at 200x magnification. Image copyright Te Papa.
  • GH024606, detail of skins used to make the garment. Image copyright Te Papa.
  • Images of hair fibers removed from GH024606 showing exterior scale patterning and the structure of the interior. Images by A. Peranteau, copyright Te Papa.

Witchy tale In 1936, the Dominion Museum was given a gift so rare and strange that it made the news.  Described in the Auckland Star and in museum records as a “witch doctor’s outfit”, the garment was subsequently displayed for many years in the Buckle St building that opened that same year.   During an… Read more »

Wineera family portrait : A picture tells a thousand words.

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A PICTURE TELLS A THOUSAND WORDS Stories from He iti whetū : Ngāti Toa portraits. Ngā Toi Arts Te Papa: Kanohi Kitea Māori & Pacific Encounters   This family portrait from the turn of last century is a remarkable and striking statement about family and identity. Titled Ko mātou me ā mātou tamariki, mokopuna hoki, or ‘Ourselves, our children and grandchildren’, this collection… Read more »

Call for papers: Costume & Textile Association of NZ symposium

Nature Now The Costume & Textile Association of New Zealand is calling for papers for their 2016 symposium, the theme of which is Nature Now. The symposium will take place 7-8 July 2016 at Massey University, Wellington. The natural world has long been a source of raw materials for textiles and clothing, from dyes to… Read more »

  Last week a small dazzling selection of headdresses belonging to Carmen Rupe (1936 – 2011), went on display at Te Papa. Carmen was a legendary transgender performer and brothel owner – the headwear represents her more flamboyant side.   Each headdress is part of an ensemble, specially selected by Carmen for Te Papa’s history collection…. Read more »

Te Papa’s international textiles – Nigeria to New Zealand

East & West Missionary Exhibition label attached to one of the curios displayed there

East & West Missionary Exhibition A survey of the costume and textiles Te Papa’s International History collections now underway has shown that many of our collections from Africa and Asia retain links with an exhibition held almost 90 years ago.  In most instances, they have not been exhibited since then.  I’ve become fascinated by these… Read more »

Healing Te Papa’s Achilles Heel: George Dawe Redefined!

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Posh ignorance vs. best practice Art historians and curators can be obstinately wrong and obtuse even about great masterpieces. A notorious example is Leonardo da Vinci’s Lady with an Ermine (c. 1490) which should really be called Lady with a Ferret, but posh ignorance prevails. The best practitioners in the field are never afraid to… Read more »

Long she reigned over us: Queen Victoria at Te Papa

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With Queen Elizabeth II’s lengthy reign (my entire lifetime, and more!) now overtaking that of Queen Victoria, it makes sense to look at some of Te Papa’s fascinating and diverse objects that relate to the earlier monarch and empress. I can’t hope to summarise what Queen Victoria was like – that requires not a blog… Read more »