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Auckland Museum Brings The World To Tāmaki Makaurau In 2021/2022

Over the course of 2021 and 2022 Tāmaki Paenga Hira Auckland War Memorial Museum will bring Aucklanders an exciting programme of international touring exhibitions alongside the Museum’s own shows that illustrate the wealth and diversity of its collections.

“This is an exciting time of Auckland and for Aucklanders," says Chief Executive, Dr David Gaimster. "It is a privilege to provide the city with a rich and varied series of exhibitions on human and natural heritage that bring the world to Auckland.”

“We are one of the few museums in the world right now with the ability to bring such an exciting range of global touring exhibitions to our domestic audiences. These new touring partnerships cement Auckland Museum’s place on the global map for special exhibitions,” continues Dr David Gaimster.

Exclusive to Tāmaki Makaurau, Auckland Museum will present Sea Monsters exhibition from the Australian National Maritime Museum, showcasing fossils from millions of years ago and life-sized casts of gigantic ocean predators; Secrets of Stonehenge, a collaboration between English Heritage, The National Trust, the Salisbury Museum and Wiltshire Museum, revealing the latest science behind our new understanding of one of the world’s most iconic but mysterious heritage sites; and Ancient Greeks: Warriors, Athletes and Heroes, the largest collection of ancient world treasures ever loaned by the British Museum to New Zealand.

Two exhibitions have been generated by Auckland Museum’s rich Documentary Heritage collection. The first Love & Loss explores expressions of love, loss, hope and longing shared between lovers, friends, and families from WWI to the present. Following this, the Museum will unveil the exhibition Nature Boy: The Photography of Olaf Petersen, the first ever retrospective dedicated to the work of Olaf Petersen (1915-1994), Aotearoa New Zealand’s pre-eminent nature photographer of the 20th century, whose work has recently inscribed onto the UNESCO Memory of the World Aotearoa NZ National Register in recognition of its global significance for documentary heritage.

With three international touring exhibitions and two local exhibitions confirmed for 2021/2022, there has never been a better time to plan a visit to Auckland Museum.

Auckland Museum exhibition programme for 2021/2022:

Sea Monsters:

Opens Wednesday 7 July until Monday 25 October 2021, Auaha Atea Nui Special Exhibition Suite. Tickets: Adult $19, Child (5-13) $10, Family (2 children, 2 adult) $48, Under 5 Free. Unlimited free entry with Museum Membership.

Sea Monsters, opening to the public on Wednesday 7 July, brings never-before-seen fossils from millions of years ago and life-sized casts from gigantic specimens to Aotearoa – including a 13-metre long Elasmosaurus and 9-metre Prognathodon.

Tickets are on sale on Wednesday 16 June for this record-breaking exhibition from the Australian National Maritime Museum. This awe-inspiring exhibition, with multimedia and interactives, boasts more than 70 displays, including incredible specimens such as a huge 1.4-metre Kronosaurus jaw, an ichthyosaur giving birth, and a 5-metre-long fish that died after swallowing another fish whole.

Sea Monsters follows a chronological narrative from the earliest ichthyosaurs right through to today’s ocean predators. It shows the evolution of these predators using huge cast skeletons, real fossil specimens that are millions of years old, a video projection, 12+ interactives including “Design your own Sea Monster” and “Terrible Teeth”, and the latest palaeontology research and techniques.

In the July school holidays, families are invited to spend a night with some prehistoric ocean predators at Sleepover with Sea Monsters. Children can explore the darkened galleries and search for sneaky sea monsters hidden around the building, make their own prehistoric puppets, handle some fabulous fossils and learn about the time when these giant monsters ruled the seas. When it’s time for bed, they’ll fall asleep amongst life-sized replicas of Elasmosaurus, Prognathodon and other long-named specimens.

Only slightly scary, it’s fun for the whole family – Sea Monsters comes exclusively to Auckland Museum and opens on Wednesday 7 July. Tickets are on sale from Wednesday 16 June at

Love & Loss:

Opens Wednesday 28 July 2021 and runs until Monday 31 January 2022 in Sainsbury Horrocks Gallery, Level 2. Free with Museum entry.

This exhibition, drawn from the Museum’s manuscript collection as well as loans from the public, explores expressions of love, loss, and longing. From letters and scribbled notes to Facebook messages and emails, messages bear witness to the emotions shared between lovers, friends, and families. These same themes and questions apply across generations, such as why do we create these documents, and why do we choose to keep (or destroy) them?

Love & Loss, using a contemporary curatorial lens, will present these collections of letters, diaries and other ephemera as more than just archives for historical enquiry. Rather, it will explore their value as intimate spaces, sites of emotional expression and exchange between individuals that get to the heart of what it means to be human.

The exhibition will encourage visitors to reflect on similar objects in their own lives and their relationships to those objects. Despite the shift to digital and more rapid, transactional forms of communication, we still hold an emotional connection to these messages. An email you go back to read time and again, or a message log of a conversation with a lost loved one you can’t bring yourself to delete. As much as old letters, these are the relics – archives of relationships, of people – of emotions we want to remember or hold on to.

As we face new challenges, Love & Loss will be a timely exploration of our unchanging need to say what we must, especially when time and distance hold us apart.

Love & Loss is free with Museum entry and will open to the public on Wednesday 28 July 2021.

Secrets of Stonehenge:

Opens Friday 3 December 2021 and runs until Monday 18 April 2022, Auaha Atea Nui Special Exhibition Suite. Tickets: Adult $19, Child (5-13) $14, Family (2 children, 2 adult) $52, Under 5 Free. Unlimited free entry with Museum Membership.

After centuries of speculation, scholars are finally forming an understanding of Stonehenge thanks to archaeological excavations and advances in scientific techniques. Evidence from Stonehenge itself along with remains from the surrounding landscape shed light on the people who constructed one of the world’s most famous monuments.

Now, after almost 20 years of excavations at Stonehenge and at the source of its bluestone in Wales, archaeologists finally have some answers.

Secrets of Stonehenge highlights more than 300 ancient artifacts and the latest cutting-edge scientific research to answer questions about this iconic, mysterious World Heritage Site.

This exhibition follows the development of Stonehenge as a special place in the landscape and explains the origins of the enigmatic monument while illuminating the lives of the people who constructed. Explore where, when, why, and perhaps most intriguingly, how Stonehenge was built.

Visitors will leave the exhibition with new revelations into what Stonehenge meant to the people who built it ... and what it means to the world today.

Explore Stonehenge’s story – one of change and evolution – through hundreds of artifacts and modern science. Immerse yourself in the science and the spirit of place that is Stonehenge!

This exhibition is produced by MuseumsPartner in Austria in collaboration with English Heritage, The National Trust, The Salisbury Museum and Wiltshire Museum.

The Secrets of Stonehenge comes exclusively to Auckland Museum and opens on Friday 3 December. Tickets will go on sale in November 2021 from

Nature Boy: The Photography of Olaf Petersen:

Opens March 2022 and runs until February 2023, Sainsbury Horrocks Gallery, Level 2. Free with Museum entry.

Award-winning Swanson photographer, Olaf Petersen (1915-1994) spent a lifetime creating images of the outdoors, especially on the coast of West Auckland. Referred to in correspondence as ‘Nature Boy’ by his friend and fellow photographer Alan Warren, Petersen was born in Swanson to a Swedish mother (also a photographer) and Danish father. Petersen was well known out West, photographing local life and people at work and play whilst taking professional portraits for a living.

Predominantly showcasing landscapes, Petersen’s images often include elements that cross the boundaries of nature and humanity, often including the presence of people in the frame. Seabirds and children feature on windswept sandhills and beaches, morning mists cling to trees as sunlight breaks through. He took nature photographs whilst tramping in places such as the Hauraki Gulf Islands with the Auckland University Field Club documenting flora and fauna, and his work could be seen regularly in the newspaper Weekly News and the NZ Herald.

Petersen’s original competition prints clearly show his ‘mid-century modern’ photographic practice and affection for the natural world.

He presents an environment that in some cases may be at risk or off-limits today, such as toheroa shellfish beds. Petersen’s heart was never far from the coast and many of his photographs take us to these places, especially his favourite location, Te Henga – Bethells Beach.

Auckland Museum’s Olaf Petersen Collection was one of the five successful 2020 nominations recognised by the UNESCO Memory of the World Aotearoa New Zealand Trust and added to the New Zealand Memory of the World Register earlier this year.

This exhibition is accompanied by a book Nature Boy: Photography of Olaf Petersen published by Auckland University Press.

Nature Boy: The Photography of Olaf Petersen is free with Museum entry and opens in March 2022.

Ancient Greeks: Athletes, Warriors and Heroes:

Opens Friday 10 June 2022 and runs until Sunday 16 October 2022, Auaha Atea Nui Special Exhibition Suite. Tickets: Adult $25, Child (5-13) $12, Family (2 children, 2 adult) $62, Under 5 Free. Unlimited free entry with Museum Membership.

This exhibition from the British Museum’s world-renowned collection from the Ancient Greek world is the largest selection of ancient artefacts ever loaned by the British Museum to New Zealand.

It will showcase a wide range of treasures and stories and includes a selection of iconic sculptures from the ‘Mausoleum at Halikarnassos’, one of the seven wonders of the Ancient World.

Ancient Greek civilization has had a profound influence on the development of language, politics, educational systems, philosophy, science, and the arts around the world. Artistic, physical and intellectual competition pervaded all of society and this exhibition asserts that competition can also unify, resulting in achievement and innovation.

Key objects in the show include iconic black and red ceramics featuring finely drawn depictions of athletes, gods and citizens; stunning marble and terracotta, statues and reliefs – including many fine nudes; bronze figurines; weapons and armour; toys and games; fine gold jewellery; and coins.

This exhibition is being toured in partnership with the National Museum of Australia in Canberra and the Western Australian Museum, with support from Auckland’s economic development agency, Auckland Unlimited.

Ancient Greeks: Athletes, Warriors and Heroes comes exclusively to Auckland Museum and opens on Friday 10 June 2022. Tickets are on sale in May 2022 from

Frieze block showing a battle between Greek and Amazon warriors, marble, sculpture from the Mausoleum of Halikarnassos, approx 350 BC, GR 1865,0723.1, © The Trustees of the British Museum

Auckland Museum Membership, with three options to explore, provides unlimited free entry to all paid exhibitions, (Sea Monsters, Secrets of Stonehenge and Ancient Greeks: Athletes, Warriors and Heroes) discounted event tickets and exclusive Member-only events.

Find out more at:

Further details and programmes to be announced, sign up to our What’s On email for updates.

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