On Sunday evening 11 May 2008 Te Papa closed Whales|Tohorā. Over 140,000 people had visited the exhibition.
During the morning several killer whales, or orca, played by the fountain in Oriental Bay – much to the delight and amazement of several of the Whales exhibition team members. We like to think it was a sign!
For Te Papa staff and iwi partners who had contributed to the exhibition the closing was a sad and moving event. We gave the exhibition a poroporoaki (farewell) and blessed the taongataonga treasures Māori | Noun | listen in preparation for the tour to the first international venue in Washington DC.
We reflected on what had been achieved and the impact we believe the exhibition has had on so many people. The exhibition’s whakatauki, or proverb, sums it up:
Tere tohorā, tere tangata.
Where whales journey, people follow.
This week Te Papa staff start taking down the exhibition and getting it packed up and ready to travel to the United States. It will open later this year at the National Geographic Museum in Washington D.C.