Over the Christmas holidays, Australian researcher Stephen Marshall visited Te Papa to view a little-known watercolour in our collection: John William Tristram’s ‘A Tremulous Dusk‘, painted in 1904. Stephen is currently writing a book on the artist, and wrote this blog to tell us more about the beautiful painting he found.  A rare early twentieth… Read more »

Sir James Hector and the Kerguelen connection

  • Lyallia kerguelensis, Ile Mayes, Iles Kerguelen. Image: Colin Miskelly, IPEV / Te Papa
  • Hectorella caespitosa, Sealy Range, Southern Alps. Image: Antony Kusabs, Te Papa
  • Commerson's dolphin, Golfe du Morbihan, Iles Kerguelen. Image: Colin Miskelly, IPEV / Te Papa
  • Hector’s dolphin. Image: Steve Dawson, New Zealand Whale and Dolphin Trust

The Kerguelen Islands are among the most remote islands on the planet, lying in the middle of the southern Indian Ocean about 7300 km west of New Zealand (or 17,000 km east if you prefer). Yet they have at least two unlikely connections with New Zealand – a plant and a dolphin. And both are… Read more »

The End of Fashion conference: call for papers and exhibition proposals

The End of Fashion, College of Creative Arts, Massey University, Wellington, New Zealand, 8-9 December 2016 Conference conveners: Professor Vicki Karaminas, Massey University, Wellington and Professor Hilary Radner, University of Otago, Dunedin Keynote Speakers: Valerie Steele, Fashion Institute of Technology, New York Pamela Church Gibson, London College of Fashion Raphaëlle Moine, Université de Paris 3… Read more »

The mysterious attraction of the Hutt River to crabeater seals

  • Crabeater seal, Melling, Lower Hutt, July 1934. Image: John Salmon, Te Papa image MA_A.000173
  • Weddell seal, Napier, June 2007. Image: Department of Conservation
  • Ross seal, Paekakariki, September 2002. Image: Department of Conservation
  • Crabeater seal beside the Hutt River, March 2015. Image: Anneke Mace, Department of Conservation

In late March 2015, a crabeater seal swam up the Hutt River (which flows into Wellington Harbour) and died. It was a remarkable occurrence – the crabeater seal is an Antarctic species rarely recorded in New Zealand – but no-one realised at the time that this was precisely the place in New Zealand where a… Read more »

Get Downloading – 20 great GLAM websites for free high resolution images

  • Parrot's leg ring, kaka poria, made of nephrite. Oc1878,1101.616, AN72598001 © Trustees of the British Museum licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0) license
  • Arayori (A Peasant Woman), ca. 1915 by Yoshida Homei. wood with applied color. CC0. Courtesy of the Walters Art Museum
  • Iris Corsage Ornament, ca. 1900 by Tiffany and Company. Montana sapphires, diamonds, demantoid garnets, topaz, blued steel, gold alloys, platinum. CC0. Courtesy of the Walters Art Museum
  • Major General Andrew Hamilton Russell. Royal New Zealand Returned and Services' Association :New Zealand official negatives, World War 1914-1918. Ref: 1/1-002064-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22701970

People often ask me where they can find images of collection items that they can reuse for free. There is no single website hosting all of the reusable images available so I thought I’d list my favourite galleries, libraries, archives, and museums (GLAMs) that make at least some images of their collections freely available for reuse…. Read more »

Minimising waste through design – forthcoming talk

I have posted a couple of blogs about Rekindle, the Christchurch-based collective dedicated to tackling the issues of wasted ‘waste’ materials. Rekindle was originally spurred into action by the Canterbury earthquakes, which resulted in the devastation of inner city Christchurch and the creation of massive piles of demolition waste, including ‘mountains’ of native timber. Te Papa is proud to own two beautiful pieces… Read more »

9000 images on New Zealand Birds Online

  • Antarctic tern. Image: Paul Sagar, New Zealand Birds Online
  • Gould’s petrel. Image: Brook Whylie, New Zealand Birds Online
  • Chinstrap penguin. Image: Rebecca Bowater, New Zealand Birds Online
  • Little stint (non-breeding). Image: Alan Tennyson, New Zealand Birds Online

The Te Papa-hosted website New Zealand Birds Online has reached another milestone, with the 9000th image loaded on 12 January. It is only 10 months since we celebrated the 8000th image, showing that images continue to be loaded at a rate of about 100 per month. At the time of the launch in June 2013,… Read more »

Forceps delivery

John Foster. Untitled – from the 'Forceps Delivery' series. 1978. Lithograph on paper. Purchased 2015. Te Papa (2015-0026-2)

The late American writer Christopher Largen once said: “Birth is an experience that demonstrates that life is not merely function and utility, but form and beauty.” If that is so, why has childbirth been such an unusual subject for modern and contemporary artists? Motherhood is a relatively common subject in Western Art, from depictions of the… Read more »

A glimpse of ancient Mauritius: Ile aux Aigrettes, restoration island

  • White-tailed tropicbird chick being hand-fed, Ile aux Aigrettes. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa
  • Mauritius fodies: male (left) and female (right), Ile aux Aigrettes. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa
  • Pink pigeon, Ile aux Aigrettes. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa
  • Telfair's skink, Ile aux Aigrettes. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa

I first heard of Ile aux Aigrettes at a conference on island pest eradications held in Auckland in early 2001. A delegate from Mauritius spoke about a failed attempt to eradicate Indian musk shrews from the 25 ha island, which had already been cleared of feral cats and ship rats. The island next registered in… Read more »