Welcome back to our place: Te Papa re-opens Thursday 28 May

Te Papa will begin a phased re-opening from Thursday 28 May.

Te Papa board chair Dame Fran Wilde said the Te Papa team was delighted to re-open to the public.

“Te Papa is an icon of Aotearoa, and belongs to all New Zealanders. We are proud to open our doors and welcome New Zealand back to our place,” said Dame Fran.

The national museum has been closed since Friday 20 March to protect the public from the risk of Covid-19. This 68-day closure is the longest in the museum’s history.

Te Papa will register people on arrival for contact tracing, and take steps to ensure visitors can practice distancing and good hygiene.

  • Exhibitions open from 28 May: Toi Art, Signs of a Nation, Tangata o le Moana, Passports, The Mixing Room, Blood, Earth, Fire.

  • Exhibitions closed at 28 May: Gallipoli: The Scale of Our War, Te Taiao | Nature, Mana Whenua, Ko Rongowhakaata. These will re-open gradually in the coming days and weeks

  • Visitors will be checked in and out at the main entrance to the museum

  • Opening hours will be 10am – 6pm, seven days a week

  • Te Papa can have a maximum of 500 visitors at one time

  • Maximum group sizes of 10 can visit the museum

  • The cafes and stores will be open

  • Some taonga Māori may be closed off to ensure the best cultural care for them

  • Some high-touch interactives will be closed

  • StoryPlace and children’s discovery centres will be closed

  • Hosted tours, public programmes, and education programmes are currently on hold

  • High touch areas within the museum will be cleaned frequently

  • Hand sanitiser dispensers will be available throughout the museum

Te Papa’s co-leaders, Tumu Whakarae | Chief Executive Courtney Johnston and Kaihautū | Māori Co-leader Arapata Hakiwai, said the museum would re-open gradually.

“We are so excited to welcome people back to our place,” said Ms Johnston.

“We are doing that in a way that is safe for visitors and staff, that is safe for our taonga and iwi Māori, and that feels really welcoming.

“The experience at Te Papa will be different, as we create space for our visitors to reflect, relax and re-connect.”

On re-opening, the museum would offer a way for the public to share their experiences of this time in history, and have a memorial in place to the lives lost and affected by Covid-19.

There would also be pop-up performances to provide special experiences for visitors in the building and on the forecourt.

Kaihautū Arapata Hakiwai said that opening the museum would be a special moment for Te Papa and its communities.

“We are so grateful for the support of our staff, our communities, our iwi in residence Rongowhakaata, and mana whenua,” Dr Hakiwai said.

“We can’t wait to hear Te Papa resound again with many voices.”

Dr Hakiwai also expressed gratitude for the work of staff in caring for taonga (treasures), connecting with Kiwis over the lockdown, and preparing the museum to re-open.

“From our security guards who kept the collections safe during lockdown, to our curators who are capturing this history as it happens, we are very grateful to our kaimahi for their commitment to Te Papa,” he said.


The closure

The museum closed on Friday 20 March and re-opens on Thursday 28 May, a closure of 68 days. The longest Te Papa has ever been closed before was two days (closed 18 & 19 August 2016 after a sprinkler activation, closed 14 & 15 November 2016 after the Kaikoura earthquake). Te Papa opened on 14 February 1998.

By the numbers

  • 1 metre distance between visitors within Te Papa under alert level two

  • 500 visitor limit at Te Papa under alert level two

  • 68 days closed, March 20 – May 28

  • 36,000 square metres of public floor space

  • 6 floors

  • 2.2 million collection items

  • 600 staff

  • May visitor numbers 2019: average 2,567 visits on weekdays and 4,751 on weekends

Chief Executive Courtney Johnston and Head of Visitor Services Shaun Pallett review information posters about Te Papa’s new hygiene measures. Photo by Jack Fisher. Te Papa


View and download images

  • Kellie Tapuae prepares Te Papa for re-opening. Photo by Maarten Holl. Te Papa.

  • Te Papa Head of Visitor Services Shaun Pallett prepares the new check-in desk at Te Papa. Photo by Jack Fisher. Te Papa

  • Chief Executive Courtney Johnston and Head of Visitor Services Shaun Pallett review information posters about Te Papa’s new hygiene measures. Photo by Jack Fisher. Te Papa

  • Chief Executive Courtney Johnston on Te Papa’s marae, Rongomaraeroa. Photo by Jack Fisher. Te Papa


Kate Camp, Head of Marketing and Communications
029 601 0180

Ellie Campbell, Senior Communications Adviser
029 601 0120

Media are welcome to attend the re-opening. Please register your interest at MediaEnquiry@tepapa.govt.nz.