Phar Lap preparing to go back on display

2 November 2011

Conservators and curators at Te Papa have called in expert advice from a veterinary anatomy academic as they prepare the skeleton of New Zealand’s most famous race horse, Phar Lap, to be redisplayed in early 2012.

Associate Professor Alex Davies from Massey University has been sharing his knowledge with a team of Te Papa conservation staff. Together they are working to re-articulate the skeleton in a pose matching that of the mounted hide, which is held in the Melbourne Museum.

Dr Davies will be working with the Te Papa team throughout the re-articulation process leading up to Phar Lap being reinstated at Te Papa’s display space in early 2012.

“Having Dr Davies work with us has been a great opportunity to learn from a professional whose had a long interest in Phar Lap and is able to give us advice from his career and research in the equine veterinary field,” says Te Papa conservator Robert Clendon.

After Phar Lap’s death in 1932, he was re-articulated by a Dominion Museum taxidermist and an anatomist from the Otago Medical School – whose work, while groundbreaking (as none of the people involved at that time had experience in equine anatomy) resulted in minor errors which mean that up until now, Phar Lap’s display never quite matched his proud physique of his racing days.

Te Papa conservators will be posting blogs about their progress up until Phar Lap returns to his display space. You can follow it at


Media contact

Phil McGrath, Manager, Communications
029 6010 180

Colin Miskelly, Curator, Terrestrial Vertebrates
(04) 381 7301