The Museum of New Zealand, also known as Te Papa Tongarewa, reopens Tuesday following structural engineering assessments after Sunday’s earthquake. It was discovered that the museum sustained minimal damage that included some broken items in the gift shop and movement of some of the exhibits.
The museum issued a statement from Chief Executive Michael Houlihan that this assessment was necessary to make sure “the building was safe for visitors and staff.” It is scheduled to open at the regular time of 10 a.m.
Te Papa is the national museum of New Zealand and is in the capital city of Wellington. The museum has five main areas of collections which encompass an extensive history of the region and the world. The permanent art collection is of mostly New Zealand artists, but temporary exhibits include French Impressionism and Andy Warhol. The natural environment section has the largest, most comprehensive collection of New Zealand plants, trees, and flowers ever assembled. It also contains animal specimens throughout the ages.
The history collection contains over 25,000 items that tell the story of New Zealand through the centuries. Several thousand of those items are from Asia, Africa, Australia, and the Americas, as well as items collected by James Cook during his voyages.
The Pacific Islands collection and the Taonga Maori collection both contain items from indigenous tribes. Many of the Pacific Islands items were from Cook’s voyages. The Taonga Maori collection is a combination of historical items and contemporary Maori culture.
Te Papa Tongarewa first opened on February 14, 1998, but the museum dates back to 1865. After the New Zealand Parliament moved to Wellington, a small museum took shape known as the Colonial Museum. During the early 1900s, public support was growing for an art gallery. Even though the Science and Art Act was passed in 1913, it wasn’t until 1930 that the idea was put into action. The National Gallery and Dominion Museum Act paved the way for the National Art Gallery to be included as part of the Dominion Museum.
The Dominion Museum changed its name to the National Museum in 1972. By the 1980s, it was evident that the respected museum collections did not represent the changing and diverse population of New Zealand. The government created the Project Development Board in 1988 to form a new national museum. In order to have a museum that encompassed the diversity of the country, including the tribal groups, these various groups were consulted about how the history and culture of New Zealand should be represented. Out of these consultations, the goals and ideas were set for the Museum of New Zealand (Te Papa).
Te Papa Tongarewa is a Maori name and means “container of treasures.” To learn more about the treasures contained in this museum, please visit their website listed below.
Written by: Cynthia Collins, Senior Museum Correspondent