Du Fresne on Te Papa

Karl du Fresne writes:

Assuming the Government ever gets around to announcing an appointment, I have some advice for whoever succeeds the late Seddon Bennington as chief executive of – blow it up and start again.


The problem with Te Papa is not simply that the architects missed an opportunity to make a dramatic statement – something to rival the Sydney Opera House – on its prime waterfront site. You could excuse that failure if the building worked internally, but it doesn’t.

It’s a haphazard, chaotic jumble, so poorly signposted and lacking in cohesion that every time I leave, I have an unsettling feeling that there must be things I have missed.

I am actually a fan of Te Papa overall, as it has got kids and families going to museums. But that is not to say there are not areas it can do better, and the design of the building is sub-standard.

As if to confirm this, I read last year that Te Papa had decided to close its library because only 5 per cent of visitors bothered going there. I’m hardly surprised. Despite having been to Te Papa many times, I didn’t realise there was a library.

I didn’t realise there was a library either!

As for the art gallery, I heard artist Grahame Sydney comment recently that you needed to be a bloodhound to find it.

So true!

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