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Oceania Exhibition
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Oceania Exhibition


Te Papa Museum of New Zealand

The project was an exhibition entitled ‘Oceania, early encounters’, conceived to be presented at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa during the Rugby World Cup 2011 for a period of 12 weeks. The exhibition covered a 700 square metres gallery space and featured approximately 250 artefacts representing the diversity of Te Papa’s collections.

The exhibition’s concept explored how Pacific, Maori and European people responded to each other through their encounters in the 18th and 19th centuries. The narrative comprised 5 chapters, each with sub-themes to tell the stories of the artefacts in detail.

The overarching design concept was to relay the notion of a Cabinet of Curiosities or Wunderkammer, which allowed artefacts to be displayed in eclectic juxtapositions, within early 20thC display cabinetry. The cabinetry itself was then placed within modest simple ‘rooms’ or ‘islands’ specifically constructed for the exhibition. Five rooms (1 per chapter), formed the overall landscape for the gallery, each room represented by a single colour.

Pivotal to the overarching spatial design concept was the use of colour for each room. Theory around the interpretation of colour was used to reinforce the storylines, artefacts and acknowledged the use and meaning of colour within the different cultures that make up the Pacific region.

The viewer experience was enhanced by immersing and surrounding them with colour and light to aid in promoting an emotional reaction to the artefacts and their environment.

Exhibit views

Exhibits

The colours were also selected to complement the nature of the materials the artefacts were made from. The colours selected to interpret each Chapter and the stories within were:

The stories and rooms had to be clearly defined. A confident and sophisticated graphic design and identity was developed for the gallery to complement the overall colour palette. The artefacts were similar to many others within the museum, so it was important that the overall narrative and the spatial environment was different from other exhibits that were on display in the Museum.

Colour to enhance

An important design challenge was to present traditional historical objects in a contemporary way while the complementary art exhibition at The City Gallery, Oceania, Imagining the Pacific, presented contemporary Pacific New Zealand art in a traditional way.

Standard museum practices around low light-levels and protection of artefacts meant that careful consideration was needed with regard to the placement of these and the selection and use of surrounding colour.

Colour and lighting

Picture frame styles and supports for the artefacts were all designed and selected to complement not only the artefact but the concept of each story being told, so a high level of detail is considered throughout the entire project. With a wall coverage of approximately 2000 square metres required, and in a short time-frame, Resene SpaceCote was used to ensure ease and efficiency of application and quality of finish. Resene SpaceCote was used to avoid light reflection, and allow depth of colour to be drawn-out relatively quickly and, importantly in a museum environment, all off-gassing to be done quickly before artefacts can be installed.

Daily maintenance is required in high public areas and cleaning or patch painting with ease is important and Resene SpaceCote met these needs. Dichroic lighting filters were used to provide more depth to sightlines, punctuate wall and floor surfaces and to make colours ‘pop’.

Making colour pop

A subtle sound-scape featuring music inspired from the marine environment played throughout the gallery to provide a multi sensory experience. Oceania, early encounters received a very positive review by Peter Brunt in the Autumn issue of Art New Zealand 2012.

Colour swatch
Resene Space Cadet
Colour swatch
Resene Pohutukawa
Colour swatch
Resene Nero
Colour swatch
Resene Eternity
Colour swatch
Resene Tarot

Architectural Specifier: Lesley Fowler
Building Contractor: Watts & Hughes Ltd
Painting Contractor: Vekart Ltd
Photographer: Kate Whitely
Other key Contributors: David Booth, Nick Clarkson; Te Papa

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