Over 480 Friends of Te Papa were treated to a special evening on Thursday 27 June. For the very first time Te Papa extended its opening hours to allow Friends exclusive access to all areas of the museum with special talks, peeks behind the scenes and talks by curators and museum staff.

An excited buzz from the crowds filled Te Papa alongside live music played throughout the evening. Friends received a free welcome drink on arrival and were able to hear a variety of floor talks from experts in a wide array of subjects including:

 Te Taiao | Nature
 Toi Art
• Ko Rongowhakaata: The Story of Light and Shadow
• Gallipoli: The Scale of Our War

Friends could shop at the stores using their Friends discount and try samples from local artisans.

The first short talk I went to was about the publishing arm of Te Papa, Te Papa Press, established in 1997. About nine books are published each year and are closely linked to the museum and its exhibitions. It was fascinating to discover the high quality publications already in existence and in the pipeline. Some of the upcoming publications include Te Hei Tiki. Te Papa holds the largest collection in the world of hei tiki (pendant in human form). In October a book showcasing taonga from Cook’s voyages will be published to coincide with the 250th anniversary of Cook arriving in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Next I ventured up to the imaging lab for a behind the scenes tour of how Te Papa’s collection and taonga are photographed, 3D scanned, and digitised for Collections Online. It is a wonderful way of making the collection visible and accessible beyond the museum walls.

Another thrill was visiting the mezzanine library – usually only open by appointment – to see a selection of rare books including the smallest (can fit in the palm of a hand), largest and heaviest (26.5 kilos) oldest (from 1630) and the smelliest book – smelly because it is printed on vellum, prepared animal skin almost 300 years ago.

The Friends inaugural museum Take Over night was a wonderful experience and a resounding success. Friends were treated to an eye opening evening full of discovery. A huge thank you to all of Te Papa’s management and staff, who worked so hard to ensure such a fabulously successful evening.

Susanne Lang
Member, Friends of Te Papa