Art and Democracy

  • No bus shelter, 1960, by Lois White. Te Papa (1972-0002-1)
  • Aufruhr (Uprising) from Ein Weberaufstand (Weavers' Revolt), 1899, by Käthe Kollwitz. Te Papa (1981-0034-2)
  • Les bêcheurs (The diggers); 1855-1856; Millet, Jean-François; etching and aquatint in brown-black ink with surface tone; paper; etching; France
  • The pancake woman, 1635, by Rembrandt van Rijn Gift of Bishop Monrad, 1869. Te Papa (1869-0001-415)

In this blog, Dr Mark Stocker, Curator Historical International Art, explores the slippery links between art and democracy Following the very recent presidential elections in the world’s second biggest democracy (don’t forget India!) it makes sense to explore the connections between art and that system of government. Victoria Coates, who combines being senior foreign policy… Read more »

You can come across some surprising sights when wandering around Te Papa – including 3 and 4-year-olds taking pictures with vintage cameras.  If you pay a visit to the art exhibitions in Ngā Toi, you might come across a small group of children from Tai Tamariki Kindergarten. Nothing too surprising there you think, but when you notice… Read more »

Design students inspired by Te Papa’s collections

Botanical inspired placement embroideries by Verity Morison, Fern Grant and Lauren Ewan, 2016. Photo by Claire Regnault.

Each year, the history curators take design students from Massey University though Te Papa’s collections behind the scenes. The students choose an item to inspire their own design and it’s around this time of year we see what they’ve created. Curator Claire Regnault shares some of the fabulous designs.  Refashioning the national wardrobe Each July students from Massey University’s second… Read more »

Curator Claire Regnault discusses the declaration that ‘fashion is dead’ – a question at the heart of this year’s End of Fashion conference, hosted in Wellington. In 2015 Li Edelkoort, a highly regarded trend forecaster, made international headlines with her declaration that fashion is dead. To support her claims she published an anti-fashion manifesto in which she… Read more »

Off the beaten track: fern-hunting in a snow damaged forest

  • Looking behind to where the track had been cleared. A huge effort had been put in to clear the track.
  • This point in the track marked where the clearing of fallen trees stopped.
  • Whirinaki forest a few weeks ago.
  • Whirinaki forest earlier in 2016. Note the clear view through the forest understory.

Fieldwork can be as easy as reaching out of the car window to sample a tree. Or it can be a bit more challenging. A couple of weeks ago botany curator Leon Perrie and I went to Whirinaki Te Pua-a-Tāne Conservation Park to look at tree ferns. We’d visited the same site earlier in the… Read more »

Cuckoos, toxic caterpillars, citizen science, and cinerarias

  • Shining cuckoo in gum-tree. Image: Rob Lynch, New Zealand Birds Online
  • Juvenile shining cuckoo with monarch caterpillar, Upper Moutere. Image: Anna Barnett, New Zealand Birds Online
  • Magpie moth caterpillar (Nyctemera annulata). Image: Gonzalo Avila, Plant & Food Research
  • Cinerarias. Image: Colin Miskelly, New Zealand Birds Online

Cuckoos are well-known for eating spiky and poisonous foods, but did you know they can eat toxic monarch caterpillars? Shining cuckoo The pure, whistling call of the shining cuckoo is New Zealand’s harbinger of spring. This small cuckoo is one of our few migratory landbirds, spending the winter on tropical islands east of Papua New Guinea,… Read more »

David Riley, who works in our Digital Collections and Access team, is digitising 190 film reels – the contents of which hasn’t been seen for 70 years. Find out what he’s found so far. Discovering the film reels Since joining Te Papa I have been curious about a collection of 16mm and 8mm films stored… Read more »

A Children’s Guide to Splendour by Pukerua Bay School Museum

A Children's Guide to Splendour by Isaac du Toit, edited by Paddy Rockwell.

Written for children, by children, Te Papa’s Learning Innovation and Art teams are very excited to share the first book produced by our friends from the Pukerua Bay School Museum. This guide is full of great information relating to life in Europe in the 16th to 19th centuries – inspired by the taonga (treasures) on display in the European Splendour… Read more »

Can you see through paint? Examining a hidden wall mural using infrared reflectography

soil-bureau-mural

Linda Waters, Conservator Paintings, shares a technique used in her work to look through layers of paint and uncover a painting that would otherwise remain invisible. Recently we had an opportunity to try to see through paint in the foyer of a building in Taita to find a mural underneath. Bronwyn Holloway Smith from Massey University… Read more »

Remembering Avis Higgs: painter, designer, and ‘a truly awesome woman’

Swan Top, from Laurie Foon's 2005 collection Black Swan. The textile design was created by Avid Higgs in the 1940s.

Last week, we received the sad news that Avis Higgs had passed away just a few days after celebrating her 98th birthday. Avis Higgs was known to many as a painter. She was actively involved in the Architectural Centre Gallery, the New Zealand Academy of Fine Arts and the Watercolour Society of New Zealand.  She is also… Read more »