Transient Spaces – A Photographic Journey

Transient Spaces – A Photographic Journey

The year was 1997 and Te Papa was about to open on the waterfront. Two buildings waited in the wings, Buckle St, the then National Museum and Tory St, the soon to be collection store and science facility.

At the time the buildings were in a state of flux. Still clinging to the memories of their last tenants, they offered glimpses of their past use. Buckle St’s faded Deco charm with a sniff of the old school museum, Tory St, the then public works depot with its brutal 70’s architecture and overblown facilities, somehow more reminiscent of the Eastern Bloc than New Zealand.

Visually these transient spaces provided interesting vistas and a freedom to explore that was somehow missing when the buildings were fully functional. The wrapped objects gave of an air of mystery and the discarded models appeared like marooned ships in the middle of the now empty exhibition spaces. At Tory St the architecture took on a sculptural quality and the question of ‘Who was Peter?’ and ‘What did Neil do?’ was raised, more mystery.

With the National museum about to celebrate its 150th anniversary it seem’s timely to look back at two of the spaces which helped shape the National collection and how it was seen.

What attracts us to these temporal spaces?

I think it’s a mix of nostalgia and the realisation that everything changes.

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Raupo drying, Buckle St, MA_F.006360/07 Photo by Michael Hall, Copyright Te Papa
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Covered Taonga, MA_F.006360/04, Photo by Michael Hall, Copyright Te Papa
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Whare waiting, MA_F.006360/02, Photo by Michael Hall, Copyright Te Papa
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Covered Train, Buckle St, MA_F.006363/02, Photo by Michael Hall, Copyright Te Papa
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Model Fish, Buckle St, MA_F.006363/07, Photo by Michael Hall, Copyright Te Papa
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Shark Resting, MA_F.006363/03, Photo by Michael Hall, Copyright Te Papa
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Kiwi, Buckle St, MA_F.006360/09, Photo by Michael Hall, Copyright Te Papa
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Ron Ordish, Entomology room Buckle St, MA_F.006361/02, Photo by Michael Hall, Copyright Te Papa
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Stairwell, Tory St, MA_F.006351/12, Photo by Michael Hall, Copyright Te Papa
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Ducting, Tory St, MA_F.006351/10, Photo by Michael Hall, Copyright Te Papa
'Neil Did It', MA_F.006350/05, Photo by Michael Hall, Copyright Te Papa
‘Neil did it’, Lockers Tory St, MA_F.006350/05, Photo by Michael Hall, Copyright Te Papa
Bathroom, Tory St MA_F.006351/06, Photo by Michael Hall, Copyright Te Papa
Bathroom, Tory St MA_F.006351/06, Photo by Michael Hall, Copyright Te Papa

 

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Numbered stairwells, Tory St, composite image MA_F.006349/1,2,3, Photo’s Michael Hall, Copyright Te Papa

4 Comments

    1. Author

      Hi

      For the viewer the clues are sometimes in what’s not there, so the fact that the spaces look empty draws the eye to what’s left, giving those things more weight and meaning.

      Regards
      Michael

  1. Author

    Hi Stuart
    It would be interesting to find out from the previous tenants.
    When I first documented the space it was empty, but as you can see from the photos things like the wash basins in the bathrooms were extreme, enough room to have 20 people standing round them!
    It looked like the last hurrah of the state run works programs.
    Tory St is now of course Te Papa’s offsite store and science facility and some features remain like the stairwells
    Regards
    Michael

  2. The Brutalist architecture of Tory St looks interesting! But what was the building like to work in?

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