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Auckland Museum Institute 150 Years - 1871

How do you create a museum?


The Institute's Minute Book from 150 years ago reveals the people and events that shaped the Auckland Museum and its vast collections. 

A group of forward-thinking Aucklanders formed the Institute and set themselves the goal of "promoting science and literature by means of a museum and library".

Look through a selection of the original meeting notes to learn about the Institute’s earliest members and their vision, which resulted in the Museum we enjoy today.


Open late

31 July 1871

Open late

Late-night openings began as early as July 1871, when Frederick Whitaker arranged for the Museum to be open on Wednesday evenings and to be lighted by gas. Today the Museum’s night-time events include the panel discussion series LATE, and the popular after-hours Night at the Museum for families.

The iconic building is regularly lit up to commemorate Anzac Day, celebrate events and special occasions, or to show solidarity.

For Pride Week 2014, the Museum was illuminated in the rainbow colours of the LGBTQIA movement. Courtesy of Auckland Museum

On the move

22 November 1871

On the move

In 1876 the first purpose-built premises for Auckland Museum opened on Princes St.

A fundraising committee had been set up in 1871 for this purpose, led by Thomas Gilles.

Soon the collection and library outgrew this building, and in 1929 the Museum moved to its permanent home, here in Auckland Domain.

The first purpose-built premises for the Auckland Institute and Museum. Auckland Museum Collection: PH-NEG-C17017-C5955