Since its opening in 1998, Te Papa has been recognised as New Zealand’s essential, national museum, one which powerfully blends Mäori and European history into a dynamic narrative. The Museum is also regarded as a keen innovator in the world of interactive and visitor-focused museum experiences. To date over ten million people have visited Te Papa, with numbers growing each year.
Te Papa is located on Cable Street, right on Wellington’s waterfront where sculptures and performers and people abound in a welcoming atmosphere. The Museum is open every day of the year, including public holidays, and entry to the general collection is free. Opening hours are 10am-6pm daily, except on Thursdays, which is open from 10am till 9pm. General entry is free, although some exhibitions attract fees. Among the facilities present is the Te Papa Café, Te Papa Store (which sells all sorts of exhibition related merchandise, books and stationery on New Zealand art and artists), and even a Te Papa Kids’ Store, located on Level 2.
Over five floors, visitors can expect to find illuminating and respectful depictions of New Zealand’s nature, art, history, geology and indigenous Mäori heritage (including ‘taonga’, or Mäori cultural treasures) in its permanent collections. Lovers of international art can also look forward to regular popular touring exhibitions, and management and curators make the most of the museum’s integrative nature to host free events and entertainment, performances, lectures, floor talks and more.
One of the most unique features of the museum is Te Papa’s Marae, a vibrant contemporary meeting house and a living communal centre, a setting that all visitors are encouraged to connect with.
Education is a central goal at the museum and a popular learning resource for schools, as well as adult visitors and those in tertiary education. This is achieved though a combination of engaging exhibits, challenging interpretations and suitably trained visitor guides and informative tours.
Some of the captivating exhibits you can expect include ‘We are Unsuitable for Framing’, a provocative journey via artworks exploring human identity, gender, sexuality, history, and the way we and society represent ourselves. Then there’s Te Papa’s impressive scientific-themed multimedia displays, including ‘The Map’, which engages visitors by changing the geography and view of New Zealand as you walk on it! ‘The Wall’ is the place to leave your mark with virtual graffiti, whilst adventurous types can plummet some 2000 metres under the sea on ‘The Deep Ride’ and come face to face with a virtual volcano.
With all these rich wonders to explore at your fingertips, Te Papa is the best case for history and culture and education in Wellington and is well worth the visit!