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           Home >  Culture  > Culture  :

The Waikato Museum

Caroline Potter - 21/10/08

Situated in the cultural precinct of Hamilton, New Zealand, this world-class museum overlooks the beautiful Waikato River. Our team share a passion for bringing you the stories of our arts, history, culture and science through an inspirational programme that seeks to challenge and inspire.

The Museum Building
The Waikato Museum was purpose built in 1987 to amalgamate two formerly separate institutions: the Waikato Art Gallery founded in the 1940s and the Waikato Museum founded in 1965, previously known as the Waikato Museum Society. In 2002 Exscite, an interactive science centre was also incorporated into the Waikato Museum. The institution has a sophisticated exhibition space contained within a five level building and now comprises eight galleries, occupying 5000 square metres. Both the interior and exterior reflect and respect its cultural heritage, facing the Waikato River and the South end of the CBD.

The front of the Waikato Museum
The front of the Waikato Museum
Photo source Waikato Museum
Click here to view a larger version

The Waikato Museum presents a changing programme of exhibitions, featuring items from its own large collection as well as the national and international touring exhibitions that are a regular feature at the Museum. The exhibition programme covers four main areas: Visual Art; Social History; Tangata Whenua and Science


A selection of current and upcoming exhibitions

Visual Art

The Inimitable Barry Hopkins
28 November 08 – 15 February 09
Barry Hopkins acquired his first piece of art work as a teenager. Now more than 40 years later much of his impressive collection is housed at the Waikato Museum. This exhibition gives visitors an insight into the mind of this eclectic art collector and his quirky art collecting habits.

Detail of William in Paradise II Lost in the Gardens of the Pink Narcissuss, by Mark Curtis - an image from the Barry Hopkins exhibition.
Detail of William in Paradise II Lost in the Gardens of the Pink Narcissuss, by Mark Curtis - an image from the Barry Hopkins exhibition.
Photo source Waikato Museum
Click here to view a larger version

Trust Waikato National Contemporary Art Award 2008
Until 30 November 08
An exhibition featuring the finalists from this year’s national award. Selected by renowned Judge Natasha Conland, Curator of Contemporary Art from Auckland Art Gallery, this year’s selection of New Zealand’s finest contemporary art promises to amaze and inspire.

Tangata Whenua
View the majestic 200 year old carved waka taua, gifted to the Museum by Te Arikinui Dame te Atairangikaahu in 1973 to cement fellowship and goodwill with the city of Hamilton.
Trace the migration and settlement of the Tainui Iwi in the Waikato, this exhibition includes a display of valuable Tainui taonga from the Museum collection.

Te Punakai4 October 08– 30 June 09
A photographic exhibition capturing poignant moments from Poukai celebrations at Marae around the Waikato.

Social History

Walk with me: the refugee experience in New Zealand
10 December 08 – 22 March 09
This moving multi-media exhibition encourages visitors to put themselves in the shoes of New Zealand’s refugees.
Toured by the Petone Settlers Museum.


The Mighty River Waikato: from Hinaki to Hydropower
This is a major, semi-permanent interactive Science exhibition covering the workings, people, geology and wildlife of this amazing river. See what it’s like to be in an earthquake, discover how eels are so important to the ecology of the river, learn how humans have had an enormous impact on the river wildlife and explore the different technologies and how we’ve harnessed the power into electricity.

Mighty River Exhibition. Mighty River Exhibition.
Mighty River Exhibition.
Photo source Waikato Museum
Click on image to view a larger version

Coming soon

Da Vinci Machines
March 09
Learn about the brilliant mind of Leonardo Da Vinci. This interactive touring exhibition features over 60 models of his machines: war machines, flying machines and early hydraulics.
Toured by the Museum of Leonardo Da Vinci in Florence Italy.

Our collection is preserved and cared for by a dedicated group of people who play a key role in the concept development of exhibitions, and showcasing the treasures from our collection. A few larger items are on permanent display, such as the majestic 200-year-old carved waka taua - Te Winika that was gifted to the Museum in 1973 by Te Arikinui Dame Te Atairangikaahu; contemporary Tainui carvings and Neil Dawson’s sculpture Ripples suspended from the trees between the Museum and the Waikato River.

The Trust Waikato Gallery, which was previously the museum library, holds selected works from the Trust Waikato collection. Trust Waikato has acquired works relating to the Waikato region, making a significant contribution to the Waikato Museum collection.

Programmes, Tours, Activities and Events
Discover the many programmes, tours and activities the Waikato Museum has to offer. We offer a fun day out for you and your family. Challenge your mind, learn something new, and have fun at the Waikato Museum. We have group and guided tours available both inside and outside of the Museum. Regular tours visit local architectural icons including Beale Cottage - an early European home. Tours can be tailored to meet your own needs and interests.

We also host and organise some fantastic events, including artist talks, gallery talks about our exhibitions, performances, community days, movie screenings and more.

Education Programmes
The Waikato Museum is a Ministry of Education approved provider of ‘Learning Experiences Outside the Classroom’. We design and offer education services, including guided tours, interactive programmes, shows, performances and resource materials. Staff professional development and training services can also be provided across a range of topics and areas.

Information to help you to plan your visit

Waikato Museum
Open seven days
10am to 4.30pm everyday
Closed Christmas Day

1 Grantham Street, Private Bag 3010, Hamilton, New Zealand

To find your way there
From SH1 follow the signs to City Centre. Once in town Victoria Street is the CBD’s main street. Waikato Museum is located at the south end of Victoria Street and set back from the road.

General admission is free - donation/koha welcome. Charges apply to some exhibitions and activities.

Phone: 07 838 6606
Fax: 07 838 6571


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