• A painting of the rainbow flag colours on a canvas sitting on a black background.

    Te Papa acquires a rainbow

    Collections Data Manager Gareth Watkins describes how an LGBTQI+ rainbow artwork by the famous flag maker Gilbert Baker has found a home at Te Papa.

  • Glow-worms in permanent lockdown – long enough for evolution to show?

    Who doesn’t know them, the little stars of Aotearoa – glow-worms? Titiwai, their Māori name refers to lights reflected in water. Who hasn’t been mesmerised by their sparkling light, visiting a cave or seeing them in the bush during a night walk? Insect Curator Julia Kasper talks about her research on the iconic critter with the glowing bum.

  • Black and white photo of a small hut with bags of kumara in front of it

    Living off the land: Lockdown gardens since forever ago

    In this blog curators Isaac Te Awa and Katie Cooper use objects and photographs from our collection to explore some of the strategies used in the past to produce and preserve food.

NZSL, or New Zealand Sign Language, is one of New Zealand’s three official languages. As the NZSL Act reflects, it’s a distinct language, with its own grammar, not a signed version of a spoken language – English, in fact, is a second language for many Deaf people. Yet NZSL has been largely invisible in our cultural landscape.

Te Papa now has its own NZSL Mobile Guide, a new mobile-optimised web application for Deaf visitors and online audiences. Digital Producer Amos Mann takes us through the project.Read more

Do you dream? Do you know why you dream? What even are dreams? Dr Rosie Gibson, Senior Lecturer at the Sleep/Wake Research Centre, Massey University dives into the surreal worlds that we inhabit while we sleep.Read more

Tapa, or barkcloth, is an important textile in the Pacific. Tapa is made from the beaten inner bark of some plant species, but once the tapa is made then identifying which plant species was used is difficult. Our genetics researcher Lara Shepherd teamed up with Catherine Smith from the University of Otago and colleagues to create a DNA reference database for identifying the plants used to make tapa.Read more

Watercolour painting of a blue vase with thick branches of yellow blossoming flowers. Prickly thorns can be seen over the lip of tha vase.

In 2020, Te Papa acquired an 1897 watercolour painting by Margaret Stoddart that had been given the title Yellow blossom and rosemary by the cataloguers. But what are those blossoms, really? And is that rosemary in the vase, or something else? Here, Curator of Historical Art, Rebecca Rice unpacks the painting and suggests it could be somewhat pricklier than it first appears.Read more