Reframing Museums

The Federation of International Human Rights in Museums (FIHRM) Conference was hosted at Te Papa last week – three days of stimulating talks and workshops led by experts from around the world on the theme ‘Access is a human right’. Melissa Gibson, from UN Youth, blogs about her experience at the conference: The FIHRM Conference… Read more »

Curious: Anne Eliza Leak – the armless wonder

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This studio portrait of Anne Eliza Leak (also known as Thomson) was set up to emphasise her feet as a prominent part of the image. Leak is seated on a legless chair on top of a table along with a display of examples of activities and handicrafts she could make using her feet. Leak was… Read more »

Today is World Habitat Day and this week is World Space Week. I’m observing both of these events by databasing bryophyte (moss and liverwort) botany specimens which are habitat for space travellers. Bryophytes are among the ‘preferred’ habitat for microscopic animals called tardigrades, otherwise known as waterbears or moss piglets.  Although, tardigrades aren’t that fussy about… Read more »

Do we need New Zealand’s indigenous species?

Ponga or silver fern, Cyathea dealbata – a New Zealand endemic and icon. Used by many New Zealanders as a symbol of New Zealand. Photo Leon Perrie. © Te Papa. Blog post on the silver fern. http://blog.tepapa.govt.nz/2014/02/02/the-silver-fern-what-is-it/

I gave a talk on “Understanding and valuing our plants” at the recent open day of Otari-Wilton’s Bush in Wellington. I’m very interested in why New Zealand’s native species might be valued. I am hoping you can help me think about that – I welcome your input; see below. As background, New Zealand has over… 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 »

Curious: Miss Matilda Sanville – the smallest lady in the world

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This portrait of Matilda Sanville – the smallest lady in the world (also known as ‘the Fairy Queen’) – was taken in Sydney in 1875 in connection with her appearances in the city and before her tour to New Zealand. The portrait uses known studio portrait conventions of the time to convey Sanville’s size (a… Read more »

How many plants are in New Zealand?

  • The fork fern Tmesipteris tannensis is indigenous to New Zealand, being present here without human intervention. Moreover, it is endemic, being indigenous to New Zealand and nowhere else in the world. About 45% of the indigenous ferns and 80% of the indigenous seed plants are endemic to New Zealand. Photo Leon Perrie CC BY-NC.
  • Stereocaulon ramulosum is a common New Zealand-indigenous lichen. I suspect few New Zealanders would know it, which is symptomatic of the attention given to lichens, even though they contribute significant biomass to many ecological communities. Photo Leon Perrie CC BY-NC.
  • African club moss (Selaginella kraussiana) is an introduced lycophyte (and not a moss). It is very invasive, even into relatively undisturbed indigenous forests. It carpets the ground, suppressing the regeneration of indigenous plants. WELT P026410. Photo Leon Perrie. © Te Papa CC BY-NC-ND.
  • Anyone visiting New Zealand’s coast is likely to have seen Neptune’s necklace (Hormosira banksii). It is a very common, indigenous brown seaweed. But many New Zealand seaweeds are only poorly known. Photo Leon Perrie CC BY-NC.

I gave a talk on “Understanding and valuing our plants” at the recent open day of Otari-Wilton’s Bush in Wellington. I’m very interested in why New Zealand’s native species might be valued. I am hoping you can help me think about that – I welcome your input; look out for an upcoming blog post. But… 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 »

Today is World Contraception Day!

Display case with one contraceptive pill stating 'the pill that changed the world' against a backdrop of visitors' comments 'Let's talk about sex'

World Contraception Day aims to improve awareness and access to the many contraceptive methods available, and to help people make informed choices about their sexual and reproductive health. Contraception: Uncovering the collection of Dame Margaret Sparrow is an exhibition at Te Papa which features just about every contraceptive device you can think of, from the… Read more »