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,Read more

Nau mai ki te ao mārama, Pirinihi Hārata! Welcome to the world, Princess Charlotte of Cambridge, and may you prove a worthy spare for the heir, and a mini-feminist in your own right! The arrival of a baby daughter to the most famous woman in the world with an artRead more

                    Sir, I realise that your punishing royal itinerary regrettably prevents any visit to these far-flung shores during Nga Toi Season 4. Nor does our digital technology as yet permit a truly intimate interaction with the delightful art works discussed below. However, I trust that this blog goes some wayRead more

Feb. 14 is nigh!  A valid reason To commemorate the season Of love and matters of the heart As expressed in works of art, Chosen from our fine collection And brought to you, with much affection! The Valentine card in the form that we send (and hopefully receive) today onlyRead more

Seasonal Treasures from Te Papa In global terms, Aotearoa New Zealand is not a religiously observant nation. But we have long taken pride in being a tolerant one. Many of us thoroughly enjoy our Santa parades, carol services and, among cultural enthusiasts, full-on performances of Handel’s Messiah. It is difficultRead more

By the Art Curators at Te Papa: Sarah Farrar, Athol McCredie, Lissa Mitchell, Chelsea Nichols, Justine Olsen, Rebecca Rice, Mark Stocker and Megan Tamati-Quennell The recent passing of Jonathan Mane-Wheoki, CNZM, (Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Kurī, Te Aopōuri, Pākehā), the national museum’s Head of Arts & Visual Culture, leaves not only TeRead more

T. B. Kennington, Idle Hours (The Goldfish Bowl

Is the painting Idlesse by Thomas Benjamin Kennington (1856–1916) a late Victorian time-bomb, which would have delighted intellectual guru Michel Foucault, author of The History of Sexuality? Or is it an unjustly overlooked, chaste, white masterpiece, a victim of prudery and puritanism in its lack of exposure since its acquisitionRead more

Imagine this: the Soundings Theatre at Te Papa is staging a lunchtime event. It seats just over 300, but the only problem is that 24,000 people want to be there. This was the scary scenario confronting the National Gallery, Washington, when it screened the first episode of the pioneering televisionRead more

Famous stamp collectors in history range from King George V to Queen vocalist Freddie Mercury. The 1943 New Zealand Health stamps feature prominently in the latter’s carefully arranged schoolboy album. Their triangular shapes carry novelty appeal, while their subject matter is charmingly distinctive: Princess Elizabeth, later Queen Elizabeth II (agedRead more

  With the visit of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to New Zealand, it’s the perfect moment to ask what some of Te Papa’s treasures tell us about our feelings towards royalty.  Lorde’s critical and irreverent take on the ‘Royals’ of her mega-hit song runs counter to the overwhelmingRead more