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Weird & Wonderful’s Old Favourites Joined By New Technology

Weird & Wonderful’s Old Favourites Joined By New Interactive Technology At Auckland Museum

Hundreds of thousands of Kiwi children have hunted through the specimen drawers of Auckland Museum’s Weird & Wonderful Gallery and stared agog at the live cockroaches but with this Saturday’s relaunch the old favourites will be joined by new interactive technologies and a hands-on lab space.

Live cockroaches and a massive array of bizarrely beautiful insects still feature in the gallery, reopening on Saturday 1 December, but Weird & Wonderful visitors will also see glowing, virtual bugs that respond to children’s movements and any changes to their sandpit ‘habitat’.

The new lab space caters for hands-on experiments in the gallery and this summer will provide the hub for the museum’s weekly science series.

Alongside the iPad research table, loaded with apps to allow children to explore the natural world in an online environment, some of the other new offerings capture the simple pleasures. The nest is the perfect spot for children to climb inside and read a book and kids can colour on a massive scale with the colouring window.

“Weird & Wonderful has always been a great space for children to explore the natural world, and to do it in a memorable way that allows them to touch things and find out some of the answers for themselves. The changes allow for more of those discoveries and connections with the world around them,” says exhibition developer Lily Frederikse.

“The gallery’s last makeover was in 2002 and with hundreds of children visiting the gallery every day it was in need of some TLC.”

“It is a well-loved space so in planning the refreshed gallery we’ve been conscious of retaining the features that people love to see like our Arctic Group with the polar bear and the musk oxen.”

Showing the melding of old with new in Weird & Wonderful, The Artic Group has now been exhibiting at Auckland Museum for almost 100 years. Prepared by London-based taxidermists, the animals arrived at the museum in 1906 having been purchased with money from a £500 bequest specifically for “procuring larger mammals and necessary display cases”.

“As much as we’re introducing new technology, it has been about introducing new ways of telling our stories so we’ve introduced features like an object trail that will draw children and their families to explore more of the gallery and find out about all of the weird and wonderful creatures in it.”

Weird & Wonderful closed in September of this year to allow for the new developments and renovation of the space. A special, free programme of activities will be offered on Saturday 1 December to celebrate the re-opening of the Weird & Wonderful Gallery:

• 10am – 12.30pm
Face painting: Have your face painted as a Weird & Wonderful creature.
• 10am – 4.30pm
Weird & Wonderful craft activities with our gallery team.
• 2pm – 4pm
Weird & Wonderful Creatures Up-Close with live animals specialist Brian Lawton.
Throughout December the Weird & Wonderful Gallery has great weekend activities and its regular toddler programmes during the week and in the school holidays there will be daily activities including the Polar Express for the over fives and the ‘Space in Time with Einstein’ science series for older kids on Mondays and Wednesdays.

More information about the Weird & Wonderful weekend and holiday programmes for the coming summer months is available below in the “Notes for Editors”.

What’s on in WEIRD & WONDERFUL at Auckland Museum?

WED & THURS 10–10.45AM, DEC 5 – 13, FEB 6–28 2013, GOLD COIN
Bring your toddlers along and experience Kids Safari, a fun, interactive storytelling experience. Activities include stories, drama, music & craft.

WEEKENDS, DEC 8 – 23, 10.30AM–12PM & 1.30–3PM, GOLD COIN
Try your hand at creating some nature inspired decorations for your Christmas tree. A garland, a polar beer or maybe a reindeer!

WEEKENDS, DEC 29 2012 – FEB 24 2013, 10.30AM–12pm & 1.30–3PM, GOLD COIN
Bustling with weekend activities, Weird & Wonderful has a summer of crazy creative crafts for you to enjoy.

DAILY, DEC 17 – 21, 10.30AM–12PM & 1–2.30PM, SUITABLE FOR AGES 5+, FREE
Celebrate the festive season in Weird & Wonderful. View our beautiful new display of the polar group and join award winning authors & illustrators Nina Rycroft and Sandra Morris for an interactive storytelling session. You’re also invited to participate in the collaborative art work for an Arctic Mural.

TUES, THURS & FRI, DEC 27 2012 – FEB 8 2013, FREE
Experiment with colour and create your own luminous rainbow to take home.

Join our team in the new Weird & Wonderful Gallery for a summer of discovery, invention & creation. All science enthusiasts welcome!
See the Light DEC 31 2012 & JAN 2 2013
What’s the Matter JAN 7 & 9
It’s all Relative JAN 14 & 16
Light Speed JAN 21 & 23
What are you made of? JAN 28 & 30
Way to go Einstein! FEB 4 & 6
Bookings are recommended for the Space in Time with Einstein science sessions. Bookings can be made at ticket desks, online at or phone 09 306 7048. A booking fee of $3 applies to each transaction.


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