The entrance to Hīnātore | Learning Lab

Hīnātore: The future of museum learning

Hīnātore: The future of museum learning

Miri Young, Head of Learning Innovation, explains what our new Hīnātore Learning Lab is, and how it all came about.

A new approach to museum learning

Te Papa has been a world leader in creating innovative and interactive museum experiences since we opened in 1998. Since then, we've seen dramatic and exciting changes in education and the ways people of all ages want and need to learn.

More and more we're seeing an increased demand for personalised, culturally-relevant, and future-focused experiences.

Digital technology is enabling this type of learning and it's making it possible for learners to be more connected.

But it's not just about being 'high tech' – it's about connecting our learners to Te Papa's extensive collections which span across Mātauranga Māori, art, history, science, and Pacific.

Kids using Green Screen technology


Using Green Screen technology and getting up-close with Te Papa's collections, 2017. Photograph by Rachael Hockridge. Te Papa

Introducing Hīnātore | Learning Lab

We wanted to offer learning experiences for visitors of all ages (we’re all learners!) in a welcoming and inspiring environment. We needed to be able to complement our exhibitions, and enable our learners to get more in-depth and creative with our fantastic taongataonga treasures and collections.

We drew on education sector best practice including innovative learning environments, inquiry-based learning, real-world wicked problem solving, and 21st-century learning skills to inspire our learning approach: collaboration, creativity, communication, critical thinking, curiosity, and cultural engagement, and completely re-developed our former classroom space to become Hīnātore | Learning Lab – an innovative learning environment that's been designed for learners of all ages.

As well as being beautiful, Hīnātore represents a new way of empowering learning here at Te Papa. Our learning programmes are learner-centred, hands-on, and collaborative. The magic happens between learners of all ages, educators, and our staff – we’re all learning from one another.

A traditional looking classrom


Te Papa's classroom space pre-Hīnātore, 2015. Te Papa

the new Hīnātore space


The new Hīnātore space, 2017. Te Papa

Our learning programmes for schools, kura, and formal groups

We work with a range of learning environments including early childhood, primary, and secondary in English and Māori medium contexts.

We use a STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and maths) approach that supports learners to make interdisciplinary connections. 

Our learning programmes are specially designed for different groups of learners and are all inspired by Te Papa’s collections and the 21st-century learning skills.

School workshop in Hīnātore


School workshop in Hīnātore, 2017. Te Papa

Our formal learning programmes are designed to be cross-curricular and can be tailored to suit different needs and curricular areas, facilitated by expert educators who can challenge and support meaningful learning.

A new Virtual Excursion learning programme offers classes who are unable to come to Te Papa the opportunity to explore our spaces virtually.

Like our exhibition-based learning programmes, Hīnātore learning programmes are available in Te Reo Māori and are aligned with Te Marautanga o Aotearoa.

We’ve loved watching learners create their own WOW-inspired costumes, design their own vaka in 3D, scan and narrate themselves in dioramas in response to our Gallipoli exhibition, and use green screen technology to place themselves in paintings in our collections. You can see examples of these creations here under each programme.

The technology

Our programmes operate across a spectrum of engagement, including a range of cutting-edge learning technology, including a virtual reality studio, telepresence technologies, robotics, 3D printers and scanners, and touch tables.

These technologies enable new ways into learning and are used in meaningful ways for some of our programmes to strengthen learners’ digital fluency.

Telepresence technologies and our digital learning resources give learners and teachers an opportunity to participate in Te Papa learning remotely.

Child uses VR


Using VR, 2017. Te Papa

Support for teachers

We hold regular exploration sessions for teachers to visit the space, meet the team and experiment with our collections and technology. Our summer teacher professional learning series will provide opportunities for teachers to experience and understanding working in an innovative and cross-disciplinary learning environment, connecting teachers with Te Papa’s teaching and research expertise, and support the use of technology in the classroom. Please contact to express your interest.

Teachers crowd look at a tablet with a Te Papa educator


Teachers learning about new technologies in Hīnātore, 2017. Te Papa

Learning programmes for public audiences

Hīnātore is a space for life-long learning, including learning experiences for families, adults, early learners and teens. These programmes are led by our educators and are always hands-on,  fun, and rewarding.

Regular opportunities include our After School Coding Club and our Holiday Learning Programme, as well as range of special public events that will be released on our website in the coming months.

Watch this space for a range of weekend public drop-in sessions we will be launching in 2018.

We look forward to welcoming you to Hīnātore soon!

A man shows a young girl something on a computer in busy room


Hīnātore After School Club, 2017. Te Papa