Publications and stories
Te Papa’s art research informs our exhibitions, collection development, popular and scholarly publications, and educational and public programmes.
What we study
- Artists and makers
- Art materials and processes
- Art histories, traditions, and movements
- The social and historical contexts of art production, exhibition, and reception
- Art conservation and care
Our collection covers a broad spectrum, including fine art, photography, decorative art and design, taongataonga treasures, and other cultural practices – from historical to contemporary.
Indigenous art and cross-cultural focus
Māori and indigenous art of the Pacific are focuses of our research, and we recognise the influence of cross-cultural exchange in the arts. We also explore the multiple social roles the arts can play in different cultural contexts.
National and international focus
Our research is focused on art of Aotearoa New Zealand, the South Pacific, and the Pacific Rim. We seek to make connections between local practices and international movements and developments, such as Modernism.
We research the work of international artists held in Te Papa’s collections or related to temporary exhibitions.
Collection development and conservation
We take a research-based approach to collecting artworks, and we research new ways to preserve and care for all our collection items – from paintings to digital artworks.
Documentation and reflection
We document our artworks and analyse their use in Te Papa’s activities, such as exhibitions. We also examine the role of art within a bicultural and interdisciplinary museum.
We work with other Te Papa teams to develop new ways to engage Te Papa’s audiences, through education initiatives and interpretation.
Research partnerships and advice
We collaborate with other art institutions, universities, and professional associations to research artists, artworks, and related topics. For example, Te Papa has a Memorandum of Understanding with Victoria University of Wellington. This partnership recognises the mutually beneficial research opportunities and resources across the two organisations.
We provide expert advice to government agencies, such as the Ministry for Culture and Heritage and Creative New Zealand, and to local, national, and international arts organisations.
We also assist other researchers, including students and publishers.
See our art experts in our list of curators