In 1990 a team of New Zealand architects had the chance of designing the Museum of New Zealand. Jass max the winning team embarked on this architect adventure. Pete Bossley being the main architect had the chance of designing one of, if not the most significant buildings in New Zealand of the century. For it was to be designed for the people of New Zealand.
A building that was representational of New Zealanders, to give an identity through the use of architecture. A monument that resembled the bicultural and diverse range of people that occupy the land of New Zealand. In my essay I will be discussing the changes in the way that society views the museum in today's times and discussing the comparisons to that of the 19 th century museums. Also looking at the physical change in appearance and the function of a museum in the modern world of today. Comparing Te Papa to the likes of the Poimdou Centre in Paris and the early Louver. The overall design of Te Papa is trying to represent a nation.
It is trying to represent the notion of a "bicultural" country. This is similar to the functions of museums in the 19 th century. The New Zealand government and designers are using the museum as a tool to create an icon for the people of the land. Te Papa will "powerfully express the total culture of New Zealand and present the 'bicultural nature of the country, recognizing the mana and significants of each of the two mainstreams of tradition and culture heritage, and provide the means for each to contribute to a statement of the nation's identity" (Bossley 1998, pg 2)... Looking at some of the ways in which Pete Boss ley has gone about creating this 'bicultural' museum. Through the way in which the building has been positioned on the waterfront has symbolic attributes to both the Maori and the European for both used this land to launch boats / waka here.
So here we could say that the very placement of the building has great significants to the two cultures. The Marae has been specifically placed in accordance to traditions of other Maori that are in New Zealand today. "The Maori exhibition area and marae were orientated overlooking the sea towards the rising sun and the direction of most openness, with respects to the siting traditions frequently followed in location of the iwi marae throughout New Zealand" (Bossley 1998, p. 8) The pakeha exhibitions have been placed facing the city. Laid out in an ordered fashion that is similar to the streets of a normal European city. The way in which there is two cultures on display in the museum is a rather big difference to that of the Louver in Paris, but it's bigger meaning of the building itself in the way that it's purpose is to create a national identity is very similar.
"No building type can match the museum for symbolic or architectural importance. France's revolutionaries for instance, commonly referred to the Louvre as an institution dedicated to the glory of the nation" (Davis, p. 14). The Museum of New Zealand (Te Papa) has been designed to accommodate for the Contemporary society that we live in today. People don't want to only have a place were historical artefacts are preserved, but something far more interactive and invigorating.
The public wants to have an experience. To be almost consumed by the journey through the contemporary museum. With the massive viewing of TV, the extreme amount of information via computer has forever changed the public of today. It's pushed boundaries to limits and this I feel has reflected onto the public in a monumental way. These influences are why I think that the public of today has such a higher expectation of not only a trip to a museum but of all facets of life. "The information era has drastically changed the ideologies of scientists and the common domain" (Crofton, 1990 p.
223). Te Papa is a place for not only precious artefacts but a place were you can go and source intellectual information and at the same time be surrounded by history. "The New Building was to house four major galleries, an active marae, an auditorium for 350 people, classrooms, resource centres, conservation areas, and a myriad of spaces to house subsidiary functions" (Bossley, 1998 p. 2) Te Papa has become a place for pleasure and relaxation by providing the people with cafes and lounges to sit and enjoy a quiet coffee and chat to their peers.
Creating a comfortable space to be in. They have created an atmosphere where no longer do you go to the museum to only admire the extravagant pieces of artwork, but to have a total experience of the museum itself. This is a contradiction to the early traditions of the Louvre. "The Early Louvre was committed to accessibility and education, not to the decoration, not to preserving the "aura" of either the crown or art itself" (Davis, 1990, p. 16). But when comparing Te Papa to the Pompidou Centre (1970 s) Designed by Piano and Rogers/Richard Rogers partnership the ideas are in very close proximity.
As the Pompidou was a 'new' type of building in that it catered for the contemporary public of it's time "The basement level featured the centre de Creation Inustrille, devoted to displays of architecture and design. Cinemas, restaurants, and cafes appeared throughout the building, and nearby in an adjacent wing, a centre for new music opened, directed by the famous conductor Pierre Boulez. In no sense was a visit to the Pompidou Centre comparable to attendance of any conventional museum" (Davis, 1990, p. 38). Here we can see the difference in changes in the way that the museum functions to the traditions like that of the Louvre. The architecture itself I feel has failed to recognize aspects of the Maori or tried to suggest the traditional carvings and marks too subtly.
Here Bossily explains "rather than a seemingly carved addition. We also intended that such reference would be within the larger language of the building, rather than a potential patronizing enlargement of traditional-looking forms" (Bish, 1998, p. 18). Viewing it from the front as most people do for the back is obscured, this vision of viewing it as a whole is lost. On the other hand the European influence is rather distinct. With the comparison of the scandal art work, the geometric flat plains of colour to modernists such as Gerrit Reitfeild and Pete Mondrian.
Almost the entire front of the building is geometric in its lines and form. There is no evidence of Maori traditional carvings, lines, curves or symbols that even suggests they have attempted to incorporate the culture of the Maori into the architecture of the building. So to conclude my essay I feel that Te Papa is a product of its contemporary diverse culture. The public has also moulded its function.
It is no longer like that of the traditional museums of the 19 th century in appearance but is still a building that holds a national sense of pride. The function to the people of New Zealand is much more than that of just being a Museum to store artefacts. It's an experience of a culture that is alive at this very moment.