Te Papa marks a record year for Gallipoli: The scale of our war

25 April 2016

More than 700,000 people have seen Gallipoli: The scale of our war in its first year, making it the most visited exhibition in Te Papa’s history.

The ground-breaking exhibition was created by Te Papa, working closely with Weta Workshop.

Between 18 April 2015 and 18 April 2016, the exhibition has had 705,187 visitors. The next-most-visited exhibition at Te Papa was Air New Zealand: 75 Years with 389,000 visitors.

"The scale of the public’s response to Gallipoli has been astonishing," says Te Papa Chief Executive Rick Ellis.

"Beyond the sheer numbers, we have been humbled by the depth of feeling we see in our visitors."

"They are coming in family groups, they are immersing themselves in the information and the emotion, and they are leaving with a new understanding, and often, with tears in their eyes."

Visitors are encouraged to share their response on a paper poppy which is left in the exhibition. Over half a million poppies have been left by visitors to date.

Some visitor comments:

  • "Many thoughts and sadness from the mother of a soldier currently serving."

  • "Insightful, moving, informative, emotive. I came away with tears in my eyes."

  • "Let all wars cease. Think of the Syrians."

  • "Kia maumaharatia. Kia rātou mā ē."

  • "They have become our sons as well. K. Ataturk. Ermine Selik from Turkey 4th February 2016 Thursday. We love you."

  • "Such a terrible waste of men and women! Imperialistic and jingoistic ideas have a lot to answer for. Practise passive resistance!"

Many visitors simply leave their name, or the name of a relative who fought:

  • "Charles Frederick Jackson killed at Chunuk Bair 8/8/1914."

  • "RIP Grt Uncle George Gilkes Mounted Rifleman. Survivor of Gallipoli. Buried Lemnos GFS."

Weta Workshop’s Sir Richard Taylor, Creative Director of the exhibition, says the most amazing responses he has heard are from the extreme ends of the age scale.

"I have a particular poppy that I love – 'thank you soldier, sleep well, we love you.' From a seven year old girl."

"And a man, maybe in his 80s, came up to me and said 'all I can think to do is crawl into a corner and weep,'" Richard Taylor recalls.

The $8 million exhibition was made possible by a $3.6 million contribution from the Lottery Grants Board. It will be at Te Papa until 2019. Entry is free.

Richard Taylor paid tribute to the teamwork that brought together the worlds of movies and museums.

"This was a creative collaboration between Te Papa and Weta Workshop, and together I think we achieved something very special," Taylor says.

Specialised firms created many of the exhibition’s components, from 3D digital maps through to the specially manufactured larger-than-life boots.

"There were eight separate Wellington-based companies involved, and the sense of near fanatical focus and pride that they brought to the project was extraordinary," Taylor says.

Information panels in the exhibition have recently been updated in light of new information which has almost doubled the number of New Zealand soldiers who fought at Gallipoli.

Last month, new research confirmed previous speculation that the number of New Zealanders at Gallipoli was likely to have been much higher than the official 8,556 figure, and is likely to have been close to 17,000.

"This new information confirms that the scale of New Zealand’s war was even greater than the official histories tell us," says Te Papa’s Kirstie Ross, the exhibition’s lead curator.

"It is a reminder that history is never fixed – there is always more to learn and more to discover," says Ms Ross.

Information panels in the exhibition have been updated to reflect the new research.

Te Papa is focussed on making the exhibition as accessible as possible, with specialised tours including those for the Deaf community, the blind and visually impaired, people with intellectual disabilities, and those with brain injuries.

Early bird tours at the start of each day enable visitors to book ahead and beat the queues, and can be booked on Te Papa’s website.

Gallipoli: The scale of our war – by the numbers

  • 705,187 visitors in its first year (18 April 2015 – 18 April 2016)

  • 99.93% of visitors are satisfied with their experience of the exhibition, 87% extremely satisfied

  • More than 12,000 students have visited in school groups

  • 59 minutes is the average time that people spend in the exhibition

  • 9% of visitors are returning visitors who have already seen the exhibition

  • 8 real life participants in the campaign are reproduced at 2.4 times life size

  • 24,000 hours of labour went into the creation of the figures by Weta Workshop

Media contact: Kate Camp, Te Papa communications manager, 029 601 0180


More information about the exhibition can be found in the original media release issued when Gallipoli: The scale of our war opened.

List of images attached

Please ensure images are credited to Te Papa.

  1. Richard Taylor in Gallipoli: The scale of our war

  2. A young visitor gets up close to the figure of nurse Lottie Le Gallais

  3. The figure of Sergeant Cecil Malthus emerging from poppies left by visitors

  4. Paper poppy with message: over 500,000 have been left by visitors to the exhibition

Most popular exhibitions at Te Papa

Total number of admissions (year of exhibition)

  1. Gallipoli: The scale of our war – 705,187 (to date, open until 2019)

  2. Air NZ: 75 Years - 389,099 (2015)

  3. Lord of the Rings – 219,539 (2002/3)

  4. Brian Brake – 191,315 (2010/11)

  5. The Poisoners – 160,259 (2007)

The exhibition team

  • Creative Director: Sir Richard Taylor, Weta Workshop

  • Historical Director: Dr Christopher Pugsley

  • Lead Curator: Kirstie Ross, Te Papa

  • Lead Designer: Ben Barraud, Te Papa

  • Exhibition curators: Michael Fitzgerald, Amber Aranui, Stephanie Gibson, Puawai Cairns, Te Papa

Behind the scenes – “making of” video

Media outlets are welcome to embed the youtube videos in their own sites.



Te Papa acknowledges the generous support of our sponsors and contributors for this exhibition: Lottery Grants Board, Wellington City Council, WW100, HP, Ricoh, Panasonic, NZSO, Innovative Travel, and Singapore Airlines.