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Safe, Spacious, Family Fun

Auckland’s Museum of Transport and Technology (MOTAT) reopened safely to the public on Tuesday 26 May in the wake of the COVID-19 lockdown.

After more than two months behind closed doors the MOTAT team are excited and ready to reconnect with their visitors and wider whanau. 

But for a Museum traditionally celebrated for its hands-on experiential fun, this COVID-19 climate has challenged the team to apply a fresh, agile and creative rethink to its post-lockdown visitor experience. 

“The safety of our visitors and our team is our first priority” explains Public Programmes Manager, Sarah Somerville.

“The pandemic has meant we’ve spent the last two months re-thinking how we can best operate with everyone’s safety top of mind.”

Preparations have included mapping all touch points across the museum’s two dispersed and expansive public locations. Everything from door handles, touch screens, and interactive objects within displays have been factored into the museum’s comprehensive hygiene and maintenance plans.

“Despite us all working remotely for several weeks we’ve managed to be organised in our approach and have invested time to work with our colleagues across the wider museum sector too. Our strategies have been picked up by other institutions which we’ve found heartening. It’s an incredibly tough time for our sector so we must work together.”

Developing safe and fun experiences suitable for these uncertain times has been the focus of MOTAT’s exhibitions and public programmes teams during lockdown and the subsequent Alert Levels.

To that end, MOTAT has chosen to reopen the museum with the prestigious Royal Photographic Society’s ‘Science Photographer of the Year’ exhibition, direct from its opening season at London’s Science Museum.

A safe COVID-friendly experience, MOTAT anticipates the internationally respected exhibition will be a major drawcard for visitors, both their traditional family demographic as well as more mature art followers and photography enthusiasts. 

“We have selected 47 incredible photographs to share with New Zealand audiences, and these images range across all aspects of scientific endeavour imaginable” explains MOTAT’s Senior Exhibitions Curator Simon Gould.

“They’re fascinating scientific studies, but they are also powerful artistic statements too. I think the emotion they inspire will really take visitors by surprise. This exhibition will be a very special occasion for our museum and one we know will inspire the whole family.”

Level 2 at MOTAT also saw the museum launching their newest display area Parapara/Ingenious: Innovation in Aotearoa. This standalone exhibit gives the museum scope to swiftly present and change out various collection items.

Parapara/Ingenious: Innovation in Aotearoa opened on the 26 May and presents the Manta5 Hydrofoiler XE-1 bike as its first display piece.  An e-bike designed to be ridden on water, utilising cutting edge foil technology, this invention speaks to our island locale and laid-back lifestyle. The team behind Manta5 are the embodiment of the kiwi innovative spirit and a welcome addition to the MOTAT family. 

“The great new experiences we will be introducing here at MOTAT over the coming months are testimony to the creativity and passion of our team. While we’ll need to hold off on some of our traditional public events during Alert Levels, we have certainly made up for this with other activity” says Ms Somerville.