Te Papa closes after becoming a location of interest for Covid-19

Te Papa is closed to the public today to protect the public from the risk of Covid-19.

A traveller from Sydney who visited Te Papa on Saturday tested positive for Covid-19 on their return to Australia.

An estimated 2000–2500 people who visited Te Papa around the time in question need to follow the Ministry of Health’s advice, depending on their circumstances.

People who visited Te Papa’s Surrealist Art exhibition between 4.00pm and 5.45pm on Saturday 19 June need to self-isolate for 14 days. These people need to undertake testing as detailed by the Ministry of Health. Up to 600 people visited the exhibition during that time.

People who visited any part of Te Papa between 3.05pm and 5.45pm on Saturday 19 June need to undertake testing as detailed by the Ministry of Health. An estimated 2000–2,500 people would have passed through the museum during that time (including those who visited Surrealist Art).

Details of what people in the different categories should do can be found on the Ministry of Health’s COVID-19: Contact tracing locations of interest page.

The museum is closed to visitors and staff for the day and we will advise by 9am Thursday whether it will be open on Thursday.

The closure enables the museum to deep clean its exhibitions and building, and take all the steps needed to care for visitors and staff.

Te Papa Chief Executive | Tumu Whakarae Courtney Johnston said the museum would ensure everything was done to protect the community.

“The well-being of our visitors and our staff is of the utmost importance.”

“We have detailed plans in place and we know what we need to do to protect our manuhiri and the community,” says Ms Johnston.

The museum is identifying which Te Papa staff were close contacts and casual contacts.

“The Ministry of Health has very clear guidelines about what close contacts and casual contacts should do, and we will support our people to follow these to the letter.”

“We are a very close whānau at Te Papa, and we really care about our visitors, so we will be doing absolutely everything we can to put the health and safety of people first,” Ms Johnston says.

Chief Executive Courtney Johnston is herself a close contact as she was in the exhibition on Saturday afternoon. In accordance with Ministry of Health advice she is self-isolating and working from home.

Ms Johnston said Te Papa is in contact with the owners of the Surrealist Art exhibition to keep them informed.

“We will be in close contact with the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen who own the Surrealist Art collection, to ensure they are up to date with the actions we are taking.”

Te Papa learned it was a location of interest this morning when the information was made public by the Ministry of Health.

“We have been contacted by Regional Public Health, we are following their advice and we appreciate their support in ensuring we take all the steps necessary,” Ms Johnston said.

Te Papa will do everything it can to support the contact tracing efforts of health authorities.

The museum marked the closure of the museum with a karakia offering protection to visitors, staff, the community and the taonga in Te Papa’s care.

Media contact

Kate Camp, Head of Marketing & Communications
029 601 0180