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Volcanoes gallery Auckland Museum, with support from EQC, the Earthquake Commission, are proud to present a dynamic permanent natural history exhibition: Volcanoes.

This rare look at our turbulent geological home is an up close and personal examination of the scientific and human stories of volcanoes. The highly interactive exhibition will give visitors a walk through deep sea black smokers and also a grandstand as-live view of a volcanic eruption in Auckland.

We’'re all fascinated by volcanoes. They're destructive and deadly, but at the same time they're beautiful and creative. We're horrified by them, but we can't keep away from them either. And of course, their unpredictability only adds to the mix: we still never know exactly what they are going to do next.

The Volcanoes exhibition is about both volcanoes in general, and our volcanoes in particular. Auckland is one of very few cities in the world to be built on an active volcanic field. That's right, active. Volcanoes have been erupting here every few thousand years for the last 250,000 years. According to the geologists, there is no reason to think that there won't be more. The last eruption in Auckland produced Rangitoto some 600 years ago. When will the next one erupt? Where will it erupt? How will it erupt and for how long? Most importantly, will it affect us? What can we do about it?

The gallery is installed with a series of modules telling various stories, containing artefacts, film and video. Exhibits will tell the story of human interaction with volcanoes from Māori myths and the witnessing of Rangitoto's emergence, including footprints preserved in ash, to their use as pa sites and quarries. Historic disasters such as Tarawera and Tangiwai are encountered as are the catastrophic effects for life in New Zealand that another major Taupō or Taranaki eruption would create.

Volcanoes and human life

The first object visitors see, in the centre of the space, is a 3.5 metre-high recreated vent from a typical Auckland volcano —glowing with rough a'a lava. To one side of it, under a cloud of ash, is a typical Auckland house. These two objects represent two major themes of the exhibition - the science of volcanoes themselves and their effects on human life.

View a terrifying eruption in Auckland 

Sit in the lounge of 7A Puia St, St Heliers and view a terrifying new eruption in Auckland harbour through the home’s ranch sliders - supplemented by breaking news bulletins provided by the 1 News team. The house is engulfed within minutes of the eruption starting as it shakes and the base surges roar toward you.

The deadliness of volcanoes

A cast of a victim from the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 AD reminds us both of the deadliness of volcanoes, and their astonishing ability to preserve.

  • Pompeii victim cast

    In A.D. 79, the Mount Vesuvius volcano erupted and destroyed Pompeii in a matter of hours. The bodies of many of those who died were covered in ash that gradually hardened into rock.

    Read more

Arm yourself with knowledge

Prepare to arm yourselves with the latest in contemporary understanding of a serious local hotspot, the Auckland Volcanic Field. Knowledge is power, and this exhibition will deliver all that you must know and more.

Browse our online exhibition