The doors may be closed, but the Auckland Museum is open. Elly Strang pays a visit to Auckland Museum At Home.
As New Zealand moves through its fourth week of lockdown, there’s no doubt many across the nation will be feeling an itch to explore a place beyond the four walls of their home. After all, there are only so many times you can study each shelf in the pantry for snacks or reminisce on your old life scrolling back through your camera roll. For those with kids, the isolation slog has been even harder.
Luckily, while the doors to the Tāmaki Paenga Hira Auckland War Memorial Museum remain closed in at level four and three, the museum is very much still open, with an online world of stories, videos and interactive activities to educate and entertain both the younger and older generations. The constantly refreshed Auckland Museum At Home website allows the museum to continue to tell the stories of its collection and people through this uncertain time.
“We want to maintain our connection with the city and the communities we serve while our galleries, exhibitions and public programmes aren’t able to operate,” says Auckland Museum chief executive David Gaimster.
“On our website and social channels you can expect to see an exciting array of regularly updated content designed to educate, stimulate and entertain all of our audiences.”
Although you can’t wander the grand halls in person, you can explore the museum’s collection, and a catalogue of videos, writing and activities online. So, here’s our pick of the best Auckland Museum At Home experiences to keep your household entertained.
Share what life inside your bubble is like and be a part of documented history
While it may not feel like it, what’s happening right now inside your home is a historic moment. New Zealand has never locked down its country like this before, which means the experiences you are having are entirely unique. To help people look back on this extraordinary moment in time for years to come, Auckland War Memorial Museum is asking Aucklanders to upload a “stay-at-home selfie” that reflects what life is like and shows their bubble companions. Become part of this moment in history and upload your own bubble selfie here.
It’s not too late to make a homemade poppy for Anzac Day
Anzac Day is going to feel a little different this year. Thankfully, Auckland Museum At Home has a section dedicated to the different ways to commemorate the Anzacs at home. One of these activities is an easy-to-follow guide on how to make your own Anzac Day poppy with felt and a button or crepe paper, giving families a chance to get stuck into arts and crafts for a meaningful cause.
Play backyard bingo with your tamariki
For those with children at home, Auckland Museum At Home’s kids section has a range of activities to keep the young ones entertained. One that’s perfect for any budding young scientists is Backyard BioBingo, hand-illustrated by the museum’s project curator of natural sciences, Josie Galbraith. Aucklanders share their bubble with not only their families but a whole ecosystem of creatures and plants, so explore the backyard and see how many you can track down.
Dig deep into the archives
While you can’t peruse the Auckland Museum’s collections of objects in person, you can browse them virtually and customise your search, depending on what subject you might be interested in. There’s something in the collections for everyone, from the tools featured in the museum’s exhibition Voyage to Aotearoa: Tupaia and the Endeavour for the history buffs, to a look at all the good boys and girls of days past with the Dogs of Auckland collection, which has photos of Auckland’s furry friends dating back to 1898.
Lay a digital poppy in tribute to our Anzac troops
To create a space for New Zealanders to pay tribute to Anzac soldiers at dawn services even under lockdown, Auckland Museum has a digital space where people can remember those who fought overseas. The Online Cenotaph lets you read about the real lives of people who served in wars. You can search for a person you would like to honour and lay a virtual poppy for them. Last year, over 90,000 digital poppies were laid on the Roll of Honour – a record New Zealand can surely beat in 2020, now that everyone is at home for Anzac Day. Take a look and see if a relative of yours is there.
Never lose a jigsaw puzzle piece again with the museum’s online puzzles
If you’re one of the people kicking yourself for not purchasing any puzzles prior to the lockdown, the museum has you covered. It has released online jigsaw puzzles for people to whittle hours away on, including a stunning image of the museum itself lit up to celebrate Auckland Pride Festival. For the master puzzlers seeking a challenge, you can make the experience more difficult by customising how many pieces you want the puzzle to have. The best part? You’ll never be left searching for that one crucial missing piece to complete the picture.
Get the history behind the Auckland Museum’s collection
One of the benefits of Auckland Museum At Home is an opportunity to explore the depth of the museum’s collection in your own time. And the platform has collated a collection of long reads from the archives. Dive into the stories behind the Sir Edmund Hillary photo archive, learn about the history of Poppy Day and discover the story of the objects of the 2017 Women’s March.
Go inside a day in the life of an Anzac soldier
As we move further into the future, it can be hard for some younger minds to fathom why the world wars of the 1900s actually took place. The Auckland War Memorial Museum’s video series takes you inside the life of a young Anzac soldier. The young man shares what life was like serving in World War One and explains why New Zealanders went to war, what it was like on the front lines and how the Anzacs were eventually evacuated. It’s also a great chance for anyone who needs to brush up on their history ahead of Anzac Day.
The hub is being constantly updated with fresh material so be sure to keep an eye out for new activities, stories and videos at Auckland Museum At Home.