The Otago Museum

Located in the city centre in Dunedin, New Zealand, it is one of Dunedin’s leading tourist attractions and has a large collection, one of the largest in the country.  The museum not only houses natural science specimens and other artefacts from New Zealand, but from all around the world. These exhibits are on display on a long-term basis.  A highlight to the Otago must be the interactive science centre, which has a huge tropical butterfly rainforest that visitors can immerse themselves in.

The museum celebrated its 150th birthday in 2018, but many of the collections are far older than that and there are more than 1.5 million objects from all over the world ranging from pinned insects to all kinds of antiquities and Japanese armour to moa eggs.

The Development

The Otago came from humble beginnings, a small pile of rocks collected by Sir James Hector while on a geological survey in Otago.  He displayed his rock collection and the maps he used in the New Zealand Exhibition held in Dunedin in 1865 and he called it the Otago Museum.

From its humble beginnings, the museum has gone through many changes. During 1990 and 2000 there were huge redevelopments and in 2002 The Southern Land, Southern People gallery was opened.  A central atrium was developed which connected all of the wings and galleries.

In 2017 the Tūhura Otago Community Trust Science Centre was opened and a huge redevelopment of $2.5 million for the Discovery World Tropical Forest was done and now houses more than 45 science interactives, which include a Tropical Forest 3 tiers large.  The Beautiful Science gallery and the Perpetual Guardian Planetarium are both digitally interactive and the completion of these two took place in December 2015.

What to Expect

The natural science section has all sorts of insect specimens that include collections of spiders from around the Pacific and other arachnids from all over the world.  There are also over 40 000 different marine invertebrate and over 30 000 types of birds including their nests and eggs.  The Otago has the best moa (extinct, flightless birds from New Zealand) collection in the world and has two eggs on display.

The humanities collection is just as impressive as online Bingo in Sweden, with artefacts and objects from Micronesia, Melanesia, Polynesia and Australia.  They also have a large collection of Maori Taoka.  From other countries and cultures the museum has items like weapons and armour from India, Islamic ceramics, ancient coins and there are also around 150 cuneiform tablets and inscriptions, which is the largest collection in the Southern Hemisphere.  There are also vast collections of pottery, glassware, guns, stone tools, cameras and furniture and so much more.

The Otago is open every day throughout the year, except Christmas Day from 10:00 until 17:00, and entrance into the museum and galleries is free. You will need to pay to enter the Tūhura Otago Community Trust Science Centre, the Beautiful Science gallery and the Perpetual Guardian Planetarium. Visitors may have to pay for some of the events or exhibitions, but this is advertised in their website.