Shawls: The elegant drape 

Exhibition now closed 24 Sep 2004 – 1 Sep 2005
Free entry
Arts; People and history 


The shawl – is it just a warm woollen wrap to keep out the cold? 

Anything but, as you will see from the sumptuous and richly decorated shawls in this exhibition.

The exhibition features shawls from the last two centuries, some displayed with the fashions, furniture, and artworks of their time. All in all, it’s a sumptuous visual feast from Te Papa’s History Textiles Collection.

Te Papa’s shawl collection includes more than 150 items, so what you see is a small selection which will change during the course of the exhibition. Opulently embroidered Kashmir wool, beautifully woven silk, finely printed silk gauze, rich Spanish-style embroidery - exquisite examples of all of these are on display.

The technology for weaving shawls became more sophisticated over those two centuries. Short videos will introduce you to the way paisley shawls were woven in the early 1800s and also to the delicate task of conserving old and fragile shawls.

Some of these shawls are part of the history of New Zealand settlement, arriving in the luggage of early immigrants to New Zealand. Such shawls made their way here because of their beauty and/or their practicality and were treasured possessions passed on from one generation to the next. Now, many have been donated to the Te Papa collection.