Talk: Why does Te Papa draw international interest?

Presented by Ken Gorbey

Thursday 18 March, 5:30 pm - 7pm

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What’s a museum for? What do you expect of the museum in your community and your nation? Is it a place of collections or one provides narratives about the people of that land? Does it expresses a national vision and history? Are there other roles it should have? And are such expectations fixed or do they change over time?

The challenges facing Te Papa (the National Museum of New Zealand) when it was founded have increasingly been faced by museums around the world as expectations of what a national museum should offer have changed. Te Papa, as one of the earliest to accept this challenge, has garnered international attention from its beginnings.

Ken Gorbey was there at the beginning and experienced the sometimes tumultuous process the museum went through to the stage where it now draws international attention and regard. He will explain how the ideas of ‘cultural fit’ and the use of narrative have been key to its success. Before Te Papa, 1970 to 1983, Ken Gorbey was Director of Waikato Museum. Afterwards he played a key role in the development of the Jewish Museum Berlin, drawing on his experiences at Te Papa. From 1985 to 1999 he had many different roles in establishing Te Papa, finally, as Director of Museum Projects, being responsible for the visitor experience.

In his talk Ken Gorbey will draw on his experience of a wide variety of cultural and tourism projects, from very small community-based to large multi-million dollar developments in Russia, Germany, Australia, the States, and Mexico as well as New Zealand. He will cover not only the founding principles and realisation of Te Papa in the time of his involvement during the 1980s and 90s but will  also raise some possibilities about the directions it might take in the coming decades.


Member $25, Student $27, Non-member $30 (incl. refreshments and free parking)


Ken Gorbey - Member$25.00

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Ken Gorbey - Student$27.00

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Ken Gorbey - Non-member$30.00

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Friends of Te Papa
(04) 381 7051
2021-03-18 17:30:00 2021-03-18 19:00:00 Pacific/Auckland Talk: Why does Te Papa draw international interest? A Friends of Te Papa event. More details: Te Huinga Centre, Level 3, Te Papa, 55 Cable Street, Wellington, Wellington, 6011, New Zealand Friends of Te Papa
Te Huinga Centre, Level 3, Te Papa
55 Cable Street, Wellington
Wellington, 6011 New Zealand
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