Prior to lockdown, we held regular Evenings with an Expert talks as part of Twilight Tuesdays, our late night at the Museum. While we currently can't hold these talks in person at the Museum, we wanted to bring the experts to you at home. 

This series of short, 20-minute talks will be led by a different Auckland Museum staff member each week, with topics ranging from fashion to activism to conservation and everything in between.

Check back weekly for more talks and announcements about fascinating subjects.

From the Tiny to the Mighty

Bhakti Patel and Annika Andreson

From the Tiny to the Mighty

As part of Whale Tales 2022, Auckland Museum is host to one of 80 whale tails dotted around Tāmaki Makaurau, bringing to life themes of protecting and restoring the mauri of our Ocean.

Our whale tail is an appreciation and celebration of plankton. Providing the oxygen of every second breath we take, plankton is vital for the planet’s health and provide an essential food source for our ocean’s wildlife.  

Phytoplankton is microscopic plants that form the base of the ocean’s food chain by providing food for zooplankton- the animals of the plankton. Collectively known as plankton, we want to showcase the beauty of plankton's diversity and alien-like forms.  

Because plankton is imperative to marine ecosystems- including as food for Bryde's whales and other baleen whales, we hope to protect the Tiny to the Mighty. 

Join the artists behind the tail as they discuss their story and what inspired the project. 

+Learn more about Bhakti and Annika

Bhakti Patel's passion for the ocean comes from a lifelong dream of becoming a marine biologist. A career in marine science spanning over 10 years has seen her conduct research from the northern to the southern reaches of Aotearoa’s Exclusive Economic Zone. Bhakti has been fortunate to work for The University of Auckland, BLAKE, and now Tāmaki Paenga Hira Auckland War Memorial Museum.

Annika Andresen wants to take every New Zealander to our ocean, to fall in love, and to fight for its survival. As a former environmental educator, she has inspired over 40,000 students across the North Island to connect with our marine environment. This project brings together Annika’s passion for the ocean, design, and communication. Born with a sense of adventure, she is currently conducting marine expeditions worldwide, connecting scientists, indigenous peoples, and the public. Bhakti and Annika want to bridge the gap between science and the public. Using different forms of communication, they share their knowledge and experience in the hope of encouraging Kiwis to take action to protect our ocean. Why? Because “It’s too important not to. For all of us” - Sir Peter Blake.

Auckland’s Volcanoes, their fiery secrets & how we’re prepared

Charlotte Milne and Thomas Stolberger

Auckland’s Volcanoes, their fiery secrets & how we’re prepared

Have you ever wondered about the volcanoes our city is built upon and how we are making sure we’re prepared? In this talk we will be telling you all about the Auckland Volcanic field, it’s fiery past and some of its hidden secrets.

This will be followed by a glimpse into the science contributing to our understanding of possible future eruptions, and all the different ways that we are preparing for them. Finally, we will share some tips on how to go on your own volcano adventures all around Auckland.



+Learn more about Charlotte and Thomas

Charlotte is a Research Assistant in the Collection and Information and Access team at Auckland Museum, working on several projects. She has degrees in EarthScience and Geography from the University of Auckland and during her Master’s looked at the impact that the 2016 Kaikoura Earthquake had on river systems. Charlotte has worked on volcanic research and hazard outreach in both Auckland and Taranaki.

Thomas is a Collection Technician, working with both the Collection and Information and Access team on cataloguing and digitising Auckland Museum’s palaeontology collection, and with the Natural Sciences team on collecting and studying the fossils recovered during Watercare’s Central Interceptor project. In addition to this, he is involved with coordinating the Determining Volcanic Risk in Auckland (DEVORA) research program at the University of Auckland, which assesses volcanic hazards and risks in Auckland, and aims to improve the city’s resilience to future volcanic threats..

A Year in Review

Victoria Passau

A Year in Review

Online Cenotaph is a military database of Aotearoa New Zealand service personnel. Managed by Tāmaki Paenga Hira Auckland War Memorial Museum, the database includes more than 255,000 individual records spanning the South African Wars to today. It is utilised and enriched by veterans, whānau, genealogists and researchers alike.

2021 was a busy year for the Online Cenotaph team, updating and creating thousands of records, working on numerous transcription projects with our Visitor Host and Volunteers, and working with all our researchers and contributors. This talk will highlight the accomplishments of the past 12 months.


+Learn more about Victoria

Victoria Passau has worked at Auckland War Memorial Museum since 2014. She is responsible for the management of Enquiries and Online Cenotaph as a digital product and works with Auckland Museum’s diverse content partners and collaborators. She has also developed as deep understanding of how personal memory and commemoration can enrich official histories.

Victoria obtained an Masters of Library and Information Studies from Victoria University of Wellington and holds an advisory role as one of the Guardians Kaitiaki of the Alexander Turnbull Library.

A Programme of Care: Recent Activities in the Pacific Documentary Heritage Programme

Leone Samu Tui

A Programme of Care: Recent Activities in the Pacific Documentary Heritage Programme

In January 2021, Leone Samu Tui began her role as inaugural Associate Curator, Documentary Heritage (Pacific Collections). Join her as she shares insights into the programme of activities working to surface and celebrate Pacific voices and experiences in the Documentary Heritage collections of Auckland Museum’s Research Library.


+Read Leone's bio

Leone Samu Tui (Ngati Hāmoa, Ngāti Kahungunu ki Wairarapa) is Associate Curator Pacific Documentary Heritage at Tāmaki Paenga Hira Auckalnd War Memorial Museum.

Leone began her museum career as a volunteer in the Te Kakano Information Centre and progressed to working on key collections projects over the past fourteen years, including the upgrade of Online Cenotaph and the ground-breaking Pacific Collection Access Project between 2016-2019.

Engagement with Auckland’s Pacific communities and activating the museum’s Teu le Vā Pacific dimension remains a key influence on her museum praxis


Bags & Other Stories

Grace Lai

Bags & Other Stories

From bilums to backpacks, ketes to knapsacks and pouches to pockets, bags come in all shapes and sizes. While their name and form may differ across cultures and histories, the bag is one of the most universally used object in the world and all function to carry not just things but stories.

Join Grace Lai, Curator of Applied Arts and Design as she looks at the world through the humble reusable bag that has now become an essential tool for our daily lives.


+Read Grace's bio

Guided by a curiosity for forgotten stories held by objects that are often overlooked, Grace Lai is an art historian and curator who engages with material culture as a decoder of the immaterial, to question areas relevant not only to Museums and their collections but contemporary society.

Currently, Grace is the Curator of Applied Arts & Design at Tāmaki Paenga Hira Auckland War Memorial Museum where she leads the exhibition, development and research of a nationally significant archive of craft from Aotearoa New Zealand and abroad.

Her collection centered work focuses on strengthening the representation of marginalised stories through both collection development and research. In 2019, Grace delivered the exhibition “Carried Away: Bags Unpacked” which took a deep dive into a single object as a lens to unpack wider social-cultural issues; including colonialism, economy, gender politics and whakapapa.


COVID-19 and Museum Collections: How Pandemics Impact Collection Care

Valerie Tomlinson

COVID-19 and Museum Collections: How Pandemics Impact Collection Care

In this talk Conservator, Valerie Tomlinson, will explore the impact COVID-19 has had on the Museum collections. Learn about the considerations the conservation team need to take to preserve the collection during lockdown. Valerie will discuss the various preparations and checks that need to be done, and why, and offer a sneak peek into the Museum in lockdown.


+Read Valerie's Bio

Originally from small-town Manitoba, Val is a Conservator at Auckland Museum. She has worked here for the last 12 years.

Her past life took her through various careers, including being a chemist, where her early work involved nuking blueberries for Atomic Energy of Canada, and other nuclear research work in Germany. She started out in chemistry because of her background coming from a town full of nuclear scientists, but she rapidly realised that chemistry was not her life’s ambition. Val turned to art school after her chemistry degree, but she also found that art was not her true calling either.

Val found her calling following a summer job where she joined a Kung Fu club. She loved it so much that she had to find a new degree to do in order to stay, which is how she discovered conservation. Since then, she has worked as a conservator at multiple heritage institutions around the world in Canada, England, Norway, and now in New Zealand.

While between conservation contracts, Val worked for several years in the Canadian Arctic as a librarian at a research centre. This took her through such well-known librarian tasks as: navigating a helicopter to Grizzly bear dens for a researcher; working as a site conservator on an archaeological dig on an Inuit house on a (now) uninhabited arctic island; and retrieving a prehistoric Steppe Bison from the permafrost for the Canadian Museum community. She also flew search and rescue missions as a navigator in her spare time.


Online Cenotaph: Sharing our Stories (He Toa Taumata Rau)

Madison Pine

Online Cenotaph: Sharing our Stories (He Toa Taumata Rau)

Online Cenotaph is a biographical database that allows researchers, enthusiasts, and veterans and their families to explore, contribute to, and share the records and stories of those who served for Aotearoa New Zealand. Managed by Tāmaki Paenga Hira Auckland War Memorial Museum, the database includes 250,000 individual records spanning the South African Wars to today.

Join Madison, Collection Technician Research Support as she shares more about Online Cenotaph, some of the recent work they have been doing, and how Online Cenotaph can be used for research and sharing the stories of our loved ones.

Image: Madison with historian, Dr Gabrielle Fortune.


+Read Madison's Bio

Madison’s love of history and education led her to work in the museum sector for Online Cenotaph. Currently, she manages the Online Cenotaph enquiries, answering questions from researchers, veterans, friends, and whānau.

Madison also cares for the stories of New Zealand’s veterans, interviewing surviving veterans of recent conflicts and sharing their experiences of serving for their country. In addition, Madison works with other collection teams and historians to research interesting tales, and write up little-known histories of New Zealand’s service personnel for Cenotaph Stories.


Love & Loss in the Archives

Nina Finigan

Love & Loss in the Archives

What words come to mind when you hear the word ‘archive’? Perhaps ‘dusty’, ‘boring’, or ‘academic’?

Instead, for Nina Finigan, Curator Manuscripts at Auckland Museum words like ‘love’, ‘loss’ and ‘longing’ are at the forefront. These emotions that propel us through life can be found everywhere in our archival collections and form the basis of Love & Loss, Auckland Museum’s newest exhibition which explores the emotional power of the written word and the sacred place that letters, emails, and messages hold in our lives.

Join Nina as she takes us through the making of this exhibition. In this session, she will discuss why she wanted to cast this new lens over the Museum’s manuscript collection. She will also explore the challenges and joys of creating an exhibition based around the written word.

Making Auckland Museum's Collections Accessible Beyond Its Walls

James Taylor

Making Auckland Museum's Collections Accessible Beyond Its Walls

Did you know Auckland Museum has over 3 million objects in its collection? Yet only around 2% of these objects are displayed inside the Museum at any one time.

But there is one place you can find the Museums' treasures 24/7 and it's called Collections Online. Join James Taylor, the Museum's Online Collections Information & Partnership Manager, as he talks about the work the Museum does making its digital collections open and accessible to users around the world via Collections Online.

He will also talk about the various online partnerships that have lead to the Museum's objects being viewed 55 million times in the last financial year on websites such as Flickr, Pinterest, Digital New Zealand, and Wikipedia.


+Read Jame's Bio

James Taylor is the Online Collections Information & Partnerships Manager at Auckland Museum. He manages the Museum’s Collections Online and is responsible for the over twenty online platforms and partnerships the Museum shares its open data and imagery with. Prior to working at the Museum he was employed at Ngā Taonga Sound and Vision in a variety of public access and engagement roles and has also worked as a public historian.


Save Tuvalu to Save the World

Kelesoma Saloa

Save Tuvalu to Save the World

A call to the rest of the world by former Tuvaluan Prime Minister, Enele Sopoaga (Rt Hon.): Please hear our voices, listen to our plea, “We encounter the utmost impact of global warming. We might be the first to perish from the face of the earth, but the rest will follow ... So please save Tuvalu to save the world”.

The ocean is one of our life lines, but now sea level rise is our greatest challenge. Join Community Coordinator & Guest Kaiako Auckland Museum, Kelesoma Saloa as he discusses the threat of climate change from a Tuvaluan perspective.