A vision for a more equal, happier way of life grew from the devastation of World War II. Good, affordable design was seen as key to society’s transformation and a growing sense of national identity was emerging in 1940s and 50s New Zealand.
In 1952, Auckland’s Art and Design exhibition aimed to attract as large an audience as possible, showing the public that modern art and design were available, affordable, and often made in New Zealand. Through local and international furniture, ceramics, and art, the exhibition explored new ways of making, new use of materials, and new architectural ideas.
Modernist artists and designers introduced recognisable symbols of Aotearoa into their work: Māori art and mythology, native flora and fauna, and local materials like clay and wood, they claimed New Zealand’s position as a unique, modern, and progressive nation.
Prompts for educators
To get you and your class thinking about some of the ideas within Modern Living, have a look at the prompts below.
Try them out with your class and send us some, or all, of the resulting writing or drawing and we can display them in the exhibition and on here. On top of this, we will also give you a free Modern Living learning programme!
- How can you design a home for happiness and wellbeing? Write about or draw the structure that you would like to live in.
- Architects and designers of the 1950s used local materials as much as possible. Today, the need for local, sustainable materials is more urgent than ever. Describe or draw your ideal environmentally friendly house. What is it made of – straw, clay, seaweed, flax, recycled materials, wool?
Te Papa Architectural Tour
Te Papa Architectural TourThu 29 Oct 2020, 10.00am–11.00amFri 30 Oct 2020, 10.00am–11.00amSat 31 Oct 2020, 9.30am–10.30amSun 1 Nov 2020, 11.30am–12.30pm Meet at the Information Desk, Level 2
Talk: New Zealand’s Modern Heritage
Talk: New Zealand’s Modern HeritageSat 31 Oct 2020, 11.00am–12.00pm Te Marae, Level 4
Curators’ Tours: Modern Living
Curators’ Tours: Modern LivingThu 12 Nov 2020, 2.00pm–3.00pmSat 21 Nov 2020, 11.00am–12.00pm Modern Living: Design in 1950s New Zealand, Toi Art, Level 4, meet at the exhibition entrance
Modern Living Sensory Tour for Blind and Low-vision Visitors
Modern Living Sensory Tour for Blind and Low-vision VisitorsThu 26 Nov 2020, 10.30am–11.30amWed 2 Dec 2020, 10.30am–11.30am Toi Art, Level 4
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