Why we light up the Museum

Why we light up the Museum

Have you ever looked up at the Museum by night to see it awash with colours and wondered what the colours represent?

The Auckland War Memorial Museum is an iconic Auckland building. It has customisable lighting technology which allows its exterior to be lit up in displays of vibrant colour.

We mark a range of historical dates, events and cultural celebrations relevant to Auckland's diverse communities through our building lights.

Read on for more information on our current lighting scheme, and upcoming colour schemes.

Current lighting colour scheme


Serving as inspiration for the colours of Chinese New Year is the myth of 过年 (Guo Nián). The story tells of a monster named 年 (Nián) who lived at the bottom of the ocean, only coming up once a year, during Chinese New Year, to feast on animals and humans alike. 

Though there are several versions of the myth, the method that chased the monster away were the same. A hero or heroes discover that 年 has a fear of fire, loud noises and the colour red and utilises this knowledge to chase 年 away when it visits – including wearing red clothing, putting up red lanterns and spring scrolls, setting off firecrackers and banging drums.

Many of these practices are ingrained cultural customs of Chinese New Year, which makes the 年 legend such a key character during the annual celebration. In fact, in mandarin, Chinese New Year can also be called 过年 (Guo Nián), which means to “overcome Nián.”

To celebrate and acknowledge the start of the Lunar Year, and these traditions for the Chinese communities across Auckland and beyond, we will light up the Museum in red and gold.

新年快乐!(xīn nián kuài lè)
Happy New Year!

Upcoming lighting colour scheme


In honour of Auckland Pride Festival, we'll be lighting up the Museum in rainbow colours.

Coming up

Coming up

Keep an eye out for these colour schemes in the coming months

Auckland Pride Festival (1-12 February) - Rainbow

Lantern Festival (13-16 February) - Red & Gold

Pasifika Festival Launch (14-15 March) - Yellow & Blue

Earth Hour (28 March) - Dark for 1 hour from 8.30pm-9.30pm NZT.

Poppy Day (24 April) - TBC

ANZAC Day (25 April) - TBC 

Matariki Festival (13 July) - Orange & Yellow

Please note that lighting schemes and dates are subject to change without notice. 

A selection of past lighting schemes



Auckland Museum is dedicated to sustainable energy practices. Our lighting system for the building's exterior is entirely solar powered, using one of the largest grid-connected photovoltaic (PV) installations in the country. The amount of renewable energy generated by the panels (65,000 kwh per year) is equivalent to the power consumed by about eight average households.

Read more about our sustainability practices here: