How bazaar! J.F. Lewis and the Bezestein, El Khan Khalil, Cairo

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The English painter John Frederick Lewis (1804–1876)  was a fascinating and brilliant enigma to his contemporaries, and remains so today. He was certainly no pompous, verbose Victorian bore. At a dinner of the Society of Painters in Watercolours, Lewis delivered a memorable presidential address, rising from his seat, saying nothing, and promptly sitting down again…. Read more »

Inadvertently preserving alien invaders

  • New Zealand Pygmyweed (Crassula helmsii) on a rampage in the UK.  © Copyright Seo Mise and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence
  • Monterey pine, Pinus radiata D.Don, collected 01 Apr 2009, southern Wairarapa, Lake Onoke, Onoke Spit., New Zealand. CC BY-NC-ND licence. Te Papa (SP087267)
  • Stoat, Mustela erminea, collected 1929, Unknown, Unknown. Gift of the Wellington City Council, 1929. CC BY-NC-ND licence. Te Papa (LM000273)
  • Bumblebee specimens from Te Papa's collection. Historic specimens such as these can be important for examining past genetic variation, even from extinct species. Photo: Lara Shepherd

With its long history of isolation from other land masses, New Zealand has been suggested to be an ‘ark’ for unusual species, such as tuatara and moa. But New Zealand has now been found to be a genetic ark for an introduced species – the stoat. A recent study reported that stoats in New Zealand… Read more »

End of the road

Untitled [portrait of a WWI soldier (Allan McMillan) with an amputated arm sitting at a desk at Oatlands Park, Surrey, England], 1918, England, maker unknown. Te Papa (O.031468)

Before or after visiting Gallipoli: The scale of our war, take some time to head up to level 4 to see The Road to Recovery: Disabled Soldiers of World War I. This small-scale exhibition contains sobering content showing the long-term impact of the Great War on individuals, families and communities. In the exhibition, eight large sepia photographs taken… Read more »

Rita Angus: The devil is in the detail

Surrealist painting by Rita Angus

Around 1945, Rita Angus painted a man sitting in an armchair, next to a table of books and a bunch of flowers. Nothing too strange so far, right? Except that there is a devil in a long purple robe creeping up behind him. Not to mention the huge spider crawling on the books, or the… Read more »

Why Gallipoli? Join us for an enduring conversation

I have been an avid listener of the BBC World Service’s wonderful series on the War that Changed the World, which is being broadcast locally by Radio New Zealand. Working in partnership with the British Council, the BBC has recorded a series of panel discussions in different cities around the world from Sarajevo to Dresden to Istanbul,… Read more »

AIDS Memorial Quilt and Candlelight Service – an invitation

This coming Sunday, 17 May, Te Papa is hosting the Wellington AIDS Candlelight Memorial Service. The Candlelight Service is an international event that takes place globally each May to honour those who have departed, and to raise awareness of issues facing those living with HIV world-wide. The service has been taking place every year since 1983, led… Read more »

South Island Botany Field Trip – Te Papa Botanists in Action!

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In December 2014, three Te Papa Science Staff embarked on an 11 day field trip from Otago to North Canterbury.  Heidi Meudt – Botany Researcher, Phil Garnock-Jones – Botany Researcher and Antony Kusabs – Collection Manager Sciences collected specimens, images and DNA samples of native forget-me-nots (Myosotis) and New Zealand hebes (Veronica). 11 days, over 3000 km travelled and 114 specimens collected, including 19… Read more »

Making discoveries with our citizen science projects

An undescribed species of jumping spider, eating a fly. Observed by Pete McGregor, Ruahine Range, 13 December 2014. Image Pete McGregor CC BY-NC-ND. http://naturewatch.org.nz/observations/1128770

The spider and fern citizen science projects running alongside the DeCLASSIFIED! exhibition are roaring along. To date, there have been 101 participants and 745 observations in the Spiders with Te Papa project, and 83 participants and 1332 observations in the Ferns with Te Papa project.  Thank you to all these contributors. Phil Sirvid and I… Read more »

Looking at Hei Tiki – Wear Patterns

Hei tiki (pendant in human form), New Zealand, maker unknown. Purchased 1979. Te Papa (ME014129)

I have found that studying patterns of wear on hei tiki can be quite revealing. Most hei tiki are made from nephrite pounamu, one of the toughest and most durable natural materials in existence. This being so I think we can safely assume that surface wear on hei tiki didn’t happen overnight. This wear indicates prolonged… Read more »