See our country through a different lens
 

Olaf Petersen is one of New Zealand’s finest nature photographers, documenting our country’s landscape and its people. Nature Boy features 60 extraordinary images; from the birds, sea, trees and wind-rippled sand on Auckland’s west coast beaches, to the flora and fauna from the far north to Stewart Island. 

Olaf Petersen. 1952. I'm Late. Auckland Museum. © Olaf Petersen Estate.

NATURE BOY: THE PHOTOGRAPHY OF OLAF PETERSEN

OPEN NOW - ENDS 23rd MARCH '23
SAINSBURY HORROCKS GALLERY, LEVEL 2
FREE WITH MUSEUM ENTRY

Born in Swanson to a Swedish mother and a Danish father, award-winning photographer Olaf Petersen (1915-1994) was one of Aotearoa New Zealand’s finest nature photographers, yet few are familiar with his captivating work.

Olaf's minimal photographs draw you into an unchaotic natural world, revealing a profound and comforting beauty. They invite you to embrace the simplicity of this beauty, but in doing so pose questions about its fragility.

Nature Boy features his very best competition prints, with 60 extraordinary images Olaf captured between the 1930s and 1980s. These images show his love and regard for nature – from the birds, sea, trees and wind-rippled sand of Auckland’s west coast beaches, to the flora, fauna and landscapes of the Hauraki Gulf and beyond.

You’ll see Tāmaki Makaurau and Aotearoa New Zealand as Olaf saw it and get a glimpse of his fascinating life, his ‘mid-century modern’ photographic practice, and the natural world he documented.

Olaf shows the beauty that is all around you. This exhibition will invite you to stop and recognise it.

Get involved

Discover the exhibition's interactives bringing Nature Boy to life.

Experience <em>Olaf's Coast</em>
IN MOTION

Archival film

Experience Olaf's Coast

Nature Boy will feature an archival short film called Olaf’s Coast, offering visitors further insight into Olaf's life and his photographic approach and process.

Olaf Petersen. 1943. Te Henga. Auckland Museum. © Olaf Petersen Estate.

Join Olaf in the field
HANDS-ON INTERACTIVE

Field albums

Join Olaf in the field

Visit our digital touch screen at Nature Boy and discover what it was like to be Olaf in the field. Swipe through albums showcasing his involvement in outdoor culture and the development of his outdoor photographic practice. Click on hotspots to learn more about particular images, people, and perspectives of interest.

Olaf Petersen. ca. 1970. Hold It. Auckland Museum. © Olaf Petersen Estate.

Enhance your visit

Take in the grandeur of Te Ao Mārama, savour a coffee at one of our cafés or stop by the Museum Store to capture a memory of your experience.

Discover more

As a centenarian research institution with over 4 million collection items, Auckland Museum has a story or two to tell.

Nature Boy: The Photography of Olaf Petersen shines a light on some of the Museum's most understated pictorial collections. Explore more perspectives from our collections here. 

Header and What's On image: Olaf Petersen. 1970. So Lonely. Auckland Museum. © Olaf Petersen Estate.