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Welcome Back To Our Place: Te Papa Re-opens Tomorrow, Thursday 28th May

‘Open’ signage going up on Te Papa’s plinth. Photo: Jack Fisher, Te Papa

A karakia will be held tomorrow to re-open Te Papa before visitors begin to enter the building from 10am.

Te Papa’s leadership team and a small group of staff will be joined in the karakia by representatives of mana whenua, and the museum’s iwi in residence Rongowhakaata.

The national museum closed on Friday 20 March to protect the public from the risk of covid-19. The 68-day closure is the longest in the museum’s history.

Te Papa board chair Dame Fran Wilde said the Te Papa team are delighted re-open to the public.

“Te Papa is an icon of Aotearoa, and belongs to all New Zealanders. We are proud to open our doors and welcome New Zealand back to our place,” said Dame Fran.

Te Papa is registering people on arrival for contact tracing, and will be taking steps to ensure visitors can practice distancing and good hygiene.

  • Exhibitions open: Toi Art; Signs of a Nation; Tangata o le Moana; Passports; The Mixing Room; Blood, Earth, Fire.
  • Exhibitions closed: Gallipoli, Te Taiao Nature, Mana Whenua, Ko Rongowhakaata. Te Papa’s marae Rongomaraeroa will also be closed. These spaces will re-open gradually in the coming days and weeks.
  • Cafés: The store café on Level 2 and Espresso on level 4 will be open. The ground floor café re-opens on Sunday 31 May.
  • Visitors will be checked in and out at the main entrance to the museum.
  • Opening hours will be 10am – 6pm, seven days a week.
  • Te Papa will have a maximum of 500 visitors at any one time.
  • Some taonga Māori may be closed off to ensure the best cultural care for them.
  • Some high-touch interactives will be closed.
  • StoryPlace and children’s discovery centres will be closed.
  • Hosted tours and education programmes are currently on hold.
  • High touch areas within the museum will be cleaned frequently.
  • Hand sanitiser dispensers will be available throughout the museum.
  • Distancing of 2 metres will be required when queuing outside, within the museum distancing of 1 metre is required.

Tumu Whakarae | Chief Executive Courtney Johnston said she is thrilled to welcome people back to Te Papa.

“We are opening in a way that is safe for visitors and staff, that is safe for our taonga, and that feels really welcoming.”

“The experience at Te Papa will be a bit different, as we create space for our visitors to reflect, relax and re-connect,” Ms Johnston said.

Visitors are invited to share their photos and comments about life in lockdown during the Covid-19 crisis, on a screen of Instagram images using #TePapaNohoPoihau and #TePapaBubbleLife.

A memorial to the lives lost and affected by Covid-19 is in place on Level 2 in Wellington foyer.

Kaihautū Dr Arapata Hakiwai said that opening the museum is a special moment for Te Papa and its communities.

“We are so grateful for the support of our staff, our communities, our iwi in residence Rongowhakaata, and mana whenua.”

“We will be thrilled to hear Te Papa resound again with many voices,” Dr Hakiwai said.

Dr Hakiwai also expressed gratitude for the work of staff in caring for taonga, connecting with Kiwis over the lockdown, and preparing the museum to re-open.

“From our security guards who kept the collections safe during lockdown, to our curators who are capturing this history as it happens, we are very grateful to our kaimahi for their commitment to Te Papa,” Dr Hakiwai said.

The closure 

The museum closed on Friday 20 March and re-opens on Thursday 28 May, a closure of 68 days. The longest Te Papa has ever been closed before was two days (closed 18 & 19 August 2016 after a sprinkler activation, closed 14 & 15 November 2016 after Kaikoura earthquake). Te Papa opened on 14 February 1998.

By the numbers

  • 1 metre distance between visitors inside Te Papa under alert level two 
  • 500 visitor limit at Te Papa under alert level two 
  • 68 days closed, March 20 – May 28 
  • 36,000 square metres of public floor space 
  • 6 floors 
  • 2 million collection items 
  • 600 staff 
  • May visitor numbers 2019: average 2567 visitors per day on weekdays and 4751 per day on weekends

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