End of an era – Te Papa’s nature exhibitions make way for the new

As part of Te Papa’s renewal of its permanent exhibitions, the natural history spaces on Level 2 of the national museum will close after Easter for redevelopment.

Mountains to Sea, home of the Colossal Squid, Awesome Forces with the Edgecumbe Earthquake House, and the NatureSpace family discovery centre will close on Monday 2 April at 6pm.

Mountains to Sea, 2018. Photo by Maarten Holl. Te Papa

An exciting new nature zone will open in 2019, and include an array of rare specimens along with immersive, interactive experiences. Many favourites will return, including the colossal squid and a revamped Earthquake House.

Dr Dean Peterson, Head of Science at Te Papa, says Easter weekend will be people’s last chance to say goodbye to these spaces, which have remained largely the same since Te Papa opened 20 years ago.

“Since 1998, much has changed in the way we see nature and the environment, for example, research about nature and human impact on the environment has altered substantially.”

“The bold new $11 million nature zone will reflect our changing world and tackle the tough challenges facing us today, while also showing the wonders of our environment and telling more of Aotearoa New Zealand’s stories.”

Geraint Martin, Te Papa’s Chief Executive, is excited about the changes taking place within Te Papa. “We’re entering our second phase of renewing Te Papa’s permanent exhibitions, following last week’s opening of our spectacular new art gallery Toi Art.”

“It’s really important to us to keep the museum open while our renewal takes place. Change takes time, and we’d like thank the public for their understanding while our nature zone construction takes shape,” says Geraint Martin.

There’s still much to see throughout the museum and on Level 2. The hugely popular exhibition Gallipoli: The Scale of our War remains open, as does the Level 2 cafe and bookshop, and StoryPlace, where children’s love of stories is nurtured.

Also for families, there are a number of dedicated kids’ spaces – Te Huka ā Tai and PlaNet Pasifika on Level 4, and Papa Toi on Level 5 – the hands-on art studio for visitors of all ages to get creative.

Bush City, the outdoor living nature exhibition, is open and is a great way to see nature in situ, while Level 3’s Blood, Earth, Fire also includes natural history content.

The brand new art gallery Toi Art on Level 4 and 5 is a must-see. “Art is for everyone in Toi Art, and we encourage families with children to visit and feel comfortable,” says Geraint Martin.

For those in Wellington, there will be a number of special events to farewell our nature spaces:

  • Friday 23 March, 7pm–11pm: Laters Nature’s going-away party (R18)The nature spaces within the museum will be open late for adults to playComplete with silent disco, cosmodome for star gazing, virtual reality fantasy forest, DNA drinks – cocktails with a twist – and curatorial talks, plus much more.

  • Sunday 25 March, 11am & 1pm: Puppet shows in NatureSpace

  • Easter Monday 2 April, 11am5pm: Family Farewell Day in NatureSpaceA day of storytelling, craft activities, and adventure trails.

  • For more info on these events, see tepapa.nz/nature



Steph McDonald, Te Papa, 027 424 1716, steph.mcdonald@tepapa.govt.nz

Kate Camp, Te Papa, 029 601 0180, kate.camp@tepapa.govt.nz



Mountains to Sea, exhibition view, 2018. Photograph by Maarten Holl. Te Papa.

Notes to the Editors:

Further information about the new nature zone as announced on 23 December 2017 can be found here: https://www.tepapa.govt.nz/about/press-and-media/press-releases/2017-news-and-media-releases/te-papa-unveils-plans-for-exciting