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Te Papa extends Gallipoli exhibition to Anzac Day 2022

Wed 24 Apr 2019

Te Papa announced today that its ground-breaking exhibition Gallipoli: The scale of our war will remain at the museum for at least three more years, and will not close before Anzac Day, 25 Apr 2022.

Originally scheduled to close in 2019, the free exhibition is still proving a huge drawcard for visitors, with more than 2.5 million people having seen it to date.

The exhibition, created by Te Papa working closely with Weta Workshop, is the most-visited exhibition in New Zealand’s history, and has set a global benchmark for immersive museum experiences.

Te Papa Board Chair Evan Williams said the extension would give as many New Zealanders as possible a chance to experience it for themselves.

“From when it first opened we have seen the exhibition have a profound effect on New Zealanders. It fosters empathy, inspires reflection, and is the starting point for powerful conversations,” he said.

Mr Williams said the decision to extend the exhibition had been made earlier this year, as a result of ongoing demand from the public.

“We made the decision to extend Gallipoli before the attacks in Christchurch, but in the wake of those acts of terrorism, its focus on the human cost of violence is more relevant than ever,” he said.

“This is the kind of storytelling that connects us to our history, and to each other, and helps us recognise our shared humanity over the span of different times, and different cultures.”

Turkish Ambassador to New Zealand His Excellency Mr Ahmet Ergin said the exhibition had provided an opportunity to recognise the close ties that had grown between the countries since the tragedy of Gallipoli.

“As the proud hosts of Anzac Day services every year we are delighted to hear that this masterfully curated exhibition has been extended for more people to reflect upon our shared sacrifice and most treasured relationship,” he said.

“We share a unique bond of friendship built in the wake of a tragic conflict. Gallipoli marks the turning point in our history as we rebuilt our national identity out of the embers of that war. It is incumbent on us all to cherish the memories of our grandfathers who made the ultimate sacrifice, and of their loved ones left behind.”

Weta Workshop creative director Sir Richard Taylor was one of the driving forces behind the exhibition.

“Working on this exhibition has been a profoundly personal journey for me, and for the Weta Workshop team.

“We wanted to go beyond the sheer scale of the numbers and statistics, and tell very personal stories, to really connect visitors to the human experience,” he said.

“The comments we receive every day from visitors tell us that the exhibition is achieving that more powerfully than we could have hoped for.

“Many visitors express gratitude and connection with the individuals whose stories we tell, and many respond with explicitly anti-war sentiments.”

Media contact

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

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Caption

A poppy left by a visitor to Gallipoli: The scale of our war which reads: “For all the soldiers who died, whatever side.” Photo by Jack Fisher. Te Papa

The message of a million poppies

At the end of the exhibition, visitors have the opportunity to leave a poppy with a message on it. Te Papa estimates over a million poppies have been left by visitors to date.

A sample of 3,000 poppies was analysed by researcher Nicola Caldwell and categorised according to the sentiments expressed. The results show a number of common themes.

11% of poppies express anti-war sentiments.

  • “To all those who fought in this horrible war May we never go to war again. Lest we forget! PEACE + LOVE in this world.”
  • “Heart-wrenching & real, this exhibition brings the atrocities of war to the front of my mind. Serving as a reminder to all that war is NOT the way of our future.”

19% revealed family connection or mentioned a name.

  • “In memory of Dudley Seabrook Broughton Passchendaele - wounded d.1964.”
  • “My Great Grandad, Who would never speak a word about it. All my love xxx.”
  • “Dear reader my great great grand-Farther went off to war. He stole his dead brother's Birth certificate and got very sick and got injured what a silly man :( :(.”

70% of the messages were commemorative in nature.

  • “Thank you for being the ones to die for all of us at war, your legacy will never be forgotten. Rest in love always x.”
  • “As the sun goes down and in the morning we will remember them.”

13% of the messages were addressed directly to soldiers, including thanks for their service.

  • “Thank you for being the ones to die for all of us at war, your legacy will never be forgotten. Rest in love always x.”
  • “For all the soldiers that died. Whatever side.” (shown in photo)

19% of the messages expressed gratitude.

  • “Thank you to the soldiers who gave their lives. I pray God was in your hearts.”
  • “May God give Rest to our dead and peace to the living.”

Around 8% directly expressed emotion, while many more used emoticons.

  • “So sad to read the true stories from those whom [sic] fought for us, such an amazing eye opener!”
  • “Too often we forget to be grateful to this generation that donated their lives to improve the lives of all generations that would follow. I never want to forget to be grateful again.”

By the numbers

  • 2.5 million visitors to Gallipoli: The scale of our war since opening on 18 Apr 2015.
  • 1 million poppies left by visitors to the exhibition.
  • 19% of poppies reveal a personal connection.
  • 11% of poppies have anti-war sentiments.
  • Each figure is 2.4 times larger than life.
  • 24,000 hours of labour to build and install the eight large figures.
  • 22% of visitors are under 25 years old.

Images

Images for download

Captions below. Please credit all photos with photographer’s name and Te Papa.

  • A visitor writes on a remembrance poppy. Photo by Michael Hall. Te Papa
  • Weta Workshop’s Sir Richard Taylor with the large scale model of nurse Lottie Le Gallais. Photo by Michael Hall. Te Papa
  • Visitors queue to enter Gallipoli: The scale of our war. Photo by Kate Whitley. Te Papa
  • Visitors with large scale model of Sergeant Cecil Malthus emerging from a sea of poppies. Photo by Michael Hall. Te Papa
  • A poppy left by a visitor to Gallipoli: The scale of our war which reads: “For all the soldiers who died, whatever side.” Photo by Jack Fisher. Te Papa
  • One of the exhibition’s curators, Stephanie Gibson, with researcher Nicola Caldwell, who analysed the messages left on some of the one million poppies left by visitors. Photo by Jack Fisher. Te Papa
  • Poppies left by visitors to Gallipoli: The scale of our war in the hands of curator Stephanie Gibson. Photo by Jack Fisher. Te Papa
  • The poppies read:
    • “For all the soldiers who died, whatever side.”
    • “Dear reader my great great grand-Farther went off to war. He stole his dead brother's Birth certificate and got very sick and got injured what a silly man :( :(”
    • “To all those who fought in this horrible war May we never go to war again. Lest we forget! PEACE + LOVE in this world.”