Te Papa presents Feathermania: Fashion to die for

Te Papa’s Feathermania: Fashion to die for | Te mate huruhuru: He kahu matemate opens to the public on Saturday 26 June and runs until April 2022.

Coinciding with the publication of Claire Regnault’s new book Dressed: Fashionable Dress in Aotearoa New Zealand 1830 to 1910 (Te Papa Press), Feathermania examines the place of feathers – which have been sourced from Aotearoa New Zealand and across the globe – in the fashionable woman’s wardrobe.

Feathers formed an integral part of many well-dressed women’s wardrobes throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries. This ‘boutique’ scale exhibition features a range of accessories from the 19th and early 20th century including muffs made from the skins of New Zealand land and sea birds, a stunning pelerine adorned with pheasant and peacock feathers, and an array of fans from the collections of Te Papa, the Otago Museum, and Te Hikoi.

Feathermania addresses the environmental cost of ‘plumiferious’ fashion, the loss of millions of birds which were slaughtered for their feathers, and the consequential rise of local and international conservation movements to protect birdlife. It also prompts visitors to think about their own consumer choices, in an era when fashion continues to have a negative impact on the environment.

Claire Regnault, Senior Curator New Zealand Histories and Cultures, says this mini exhibition gives an insight into how feathers played an integral part in women’s fashion internationally, and the toll such a trend took on bird populations around the world, including those of Aotearoa New Zealand.

Feathermania will display over 25 taonga, which are at once utterly beautiful and incredibly sad. Hopefully, it will prompt visitors to think about their own fashion choices in the 21st century.”

Feathermania: Fashion to die for | Te mate huruhuru: He kahu matemate
Saturday 26 June – April 2022
Mini exhibition, entry is free
Located on Level 3
Allow 15 minutes



Download images here

Media contact

Clare Callaghan, Communications Advisor
021 541 343

Feather pelerine, United Kingdom, maker unknown. CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. Te Papa (GH016753)