Thursday, May 18, 2023

New Zealand's Te Papa is free and wondrous, a top world museum

The Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa is an architectural, cultural and artistic wonder.
Wellington's delightful complex entertains, educates and engages thousands each year.
We left our balcony room on Celebrity's Eclipse to enjoy a day in this marvelous free museum.


Bruce Keller and Christene "Cookie"
Meyers explore Te Papa's treasures from
 Celebrity's lovely ship, Eclipse.
Wellington is an engaging stop on a
fine and varied Celebrity  itinerary. 


Great day tour 
for Celebrity cruisers


A WONDERFUL MUSEUM with myriad exhibits and inspiring insights into New Zealand's rich culture awaits visitors to this small, intriguing country. You'll find a stunning array of displays as varied as the country itself when you visit this six-story masterpiece on the waterfront.

We highly recommend this for cruisers. Wellington's Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongerewa is truly "a container of treasures." It's one of many exciting stops on Celebrity's New Zealand itinerary, a 12-day immersion in fjord country and the contrasting cities that make New Zealand appealing.

A Maori meeting house is kept watch over by a Maori
docent, who answers questions and keeps vigil as
Celebrity Cruises guests explored.
1998 after the merging of the National Museum of New Zealand and National 
Art Gallery, the Te Papa museum has an auspicious, older pedigree.
Its holdings go back more than a century, to a collection established in 1865. In those days, the museum was known as the Colonial Museum. It was renamed the Dominion Museum in 1907, and in 1936 it was relocated to a new building. More change, mergers and moves were to come before its present incarnation.
THE MUSEUM  building is itself an architectural wonder, 
Gallipoli's horrors are described in detail
in an emotionally charged exhibit.
befitting the marvels inside.
 We toured the museum with a family of fellow travelers we befriended on our Celebrity  cruise, which includes a stop in Wellington. It was fun watching their grade-school kids delight in the spirit of invention and innovation the exhibits offer. Scholarly research forms the basis for myriad exhibits, but a sense of fun and discovery prevails. A Maori meeting house, for instance, was built to specific detail. It is watched over by a proud Maori docent who stands sentinel and answers questions from curious kids and adults.
Our new friends also learned how to hold a ukulele and guitar. They practiced on a Maori drum, and wandered nearby to experience the sounds and vibrations of an earthquake.
Rugby, gay rights and rock 'n' roll all share the spotlight in this marvelous place, which also takes a look at the Commonwealth's influence through the years. Birds play a part in the museum's exhibitions, too, where the beloved kiwi's life and times are described and vividly displayed.
Celebrity's Eclipse provides a way to see New Zealand's 
varied cities in style, comfort and smooth sailing.

WE DIDN'T HAVE time to browse all 800,000 artworks, photographs, collection objects, and botanical and zoological specimens -- that would demand several more visits. But did take an hour to see one of several changing exhibits, an intense study of World War I's Gallipoli campaign, which brought the horrors of war home in huge sculptures, recordings and artfully curated displays of soldiers' personal effects. 
The rich history of New Zealand as a point
in the Pacific Island "triangle" involves many
religions which are artfully explored at Te Papa.

New Zealand's kiwi is the focal
point of an intriguing exhibit.

Emphasis on indigenous and contemporary art honors the heritage of the complex. For many years, the museum shared space with the National Art Gallery, which had incorporated into the New Zealand Academy of Fine Arts.
Bruce Keller hams it up inside
one of many exhibits which
encourages visitor participation.

DURING  ITS name changes, quality has reigned -- from its 1972 morph as the Dominion Museum to the National Museum, then years later when a parliamentary act in 1992 merged  two institutions -- museum and art gallery -- and the present name emerged. 
Besides a history, art and culture lesson -- from refugees to dinosaurs -- the museum expertly combines learning with fascination and fun. You can step inside various masks and armor, pretending to be a knight or an extra in a science fiction film. Witness a giant squid in an enormous display.
We enjoyed the museum with families, school groups and couples from all over the world.
Don't miss it if you're anywhere near "Kiwi Country." It's awe inspiring. And Wellington has other treasures, including the home and garden of groundbreaking modernist writer Katherine Mansfield.

The "Lost in Yonkers" cast is tremendous, a gifted ensemble
directed with empathy and tenderness by Jacquelyn Ritz.
This top-notch production is a must-see for theater lovers
for its terrific timing, and artful blend of humor and pathos. 
What a pleasure to recommend Scripps Ranch Theatre's flawless production of Neil Simon's Pulitzer Prize winning "Lost in Yonkers," a highlight of San Diego's spring theater bounty. A brilliant cast, beautifully directed by Jacquelyn Ritz, delivers a first-rate interpretation of Simon's masterpiece. The story, set in 1940s Yonkers, centers around the struggles of a complex family: two motherless teen-age boys, their earnest and grieving father, a hardened immigrant grandmother, wisecracking mobster uncle, intellectually stunted but charming auntie and another auntie with a comical speech disorder. The engaging production unfolds on an eye-catching set which gives the perfect spin to Simon's moving yet funny storyline. It's a rollercoaster of loss, courage, independence, loyalty and yearning, with winning period costumes.  Don't miss it for the hopes and dreams we all have, and characters we've known and loved. The run is through June 11. Consider tickets for yourself and favorite theater loving friends. 

UP NEXT:   Memorial Day approaches and with it, an opportunity to remember and pay homage to those lost in war, tragedy or terrorism. We share our visits to memorials around the world that have touched us -- from Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, to Yad Vashem in Israel and the memorial to "9-11" in New York City. We explore the meaning of the word "memorial," whether honoring a person, tragedy or historical event. The influence of memorials exists in all of us. Then we're on to a month-long celebration of equality in PRIDE, with some of our favorite photos and commentary on a celebration that began at Stonewall years ago. Meanwhile, remember to explore, learn and live and catch us weekly for a fresh spin on nature, performance, history, nature, family and more.
The memorial to the tragedy of "9-11" at the new World Trade Center
building is a striking architectural accomplishment:


  1. Boston Globe TrottersMay 19, 2023 at 8:35 AM

    We took the family and everyone enjoyed-- three happy generations.

  2. Proud to be in the same hemisphere with this unique treasure.

  3. Fantastic story on a captivating place. You captured it!

  4. Pittsburgh FollowersMay 22, 2023 at 7:07 AM

    Engaging museum to be sure, so varied and beautifully presented exhibits.

  5. Love that place! To not haul around a bird book on my 2-week trip there I took pictures of all the stuffed birds in the museum and used the photos for bird ID.