Our Story

Museums Wellington comprises four of our city’s leading visitor attractions – Wellington Museum, Space Place, Cable Car Museum and Nairn Street Cottage. Collectively, our museums attract nearly 400,000 visitors every year.

Our collections are diverse, including everything from a piece of moon rock to Rusty the last taxidermy Lion from the Zoo. With the development of Wellington Museum, we are working to ensure that as many of our collection items as possible are put on display.

We are part of Experience Wellington, a registered charity and a Council Controlled Organisation established by Wellington City Council to develop and manage Wellington’s cultural and arts assets. It is a unique combination of visitor experiences that collaborate and draw upon each other’s strengths, skills and knowledge to deliver excellent visitor experiences that contribute to Wellington’s economy and to its liveability and reputation as a centre of excellence for arts, culture and creativity.

Our visitor experiences are: Capital E, City Gallery Wellington, Wellington Museum, Space Place, Cable Car Museum and the Nairn Street Cottage. We also have a management agreement with the NZ Cricket Museum Trust to provide support to the New Zealand Cricket Museum.

WELLINGTON MUSEUM

Wellington’s rich history is unmistakable as you wander down Cuba Street, stroll along the waterfront or take a jaunt down to Oriental Bay. This city has an enchanting story, and Wellington Museum is the place to hear it.

The history of Wellington not only lives inside the building but on the outside too. Built in 1892, the heritage building was designed by Frederick de Jersey Clere and despite its magnificent exterior was used as a bonded cargo warehouse holding goods up until the mid-1970s.

Inside, Wellington Museum celebrates the people and the events that have shaped the character and soul of the Capital City of New Zealand and it’s region. Visitors are transported to the 1800s, and then explore the city’s metamorphosis.. The Ngā Heke exhibition showcases prized taonga, Te Whanganui a Tara (The Great Harbour of Tara), and contemporary work from Māori artists and poets.

Reach the top floor and you’ll be greeted by the delightfully bizarre; The Attic, which embraces the more peculiar side of Wellington’s history. Explore, listen, and even time travel.

The Museum Store is a gem of a place to get a unique gift for yourself or a loved one, find exquisite New Zealand made memorabilia.

The Museum is located at the heart of Wellington’s waterfront, just two minutes from the shopping on Lambton Quay and the iconic cable car. It is free and listed as one of the must-dos while in the world’s coolest little capital.

SPACE PLACE

We all live in space, on planet Earth, but what makes our place in New Zealand’s Capital City so unique? What constellations can we see verses other parts of the world and how does New Zealand contribute to Space Science? Space Place tells the stories of the southern skies through full-dome digital planetarium films, interactive exhibitions and events including workshops and courses to help people discover the spaces above New Zealand, Earth.

It’s fun and educational with a special Tuhura Module space play area for children, science information, and over 10 planetarium movies to choose from. The store is full of stellar science gifts, toys, books and tools, for both young and old.

Cast your eyes skyward as Space Place’s dazzling full-dome planetarium that’ll take you on an unforgettable journey from Wellington to the outer regions of our solar system. Most shows feature a live exploration through the southern skies over New Zealand. Explore the exhibition to find out how space technology is influencing life here on Earth and take a look at our skies through the historic Thomas Cooke telescope during late nights when the weather is clear.

Space Place is housed in Carter Observatory, named after Charles Rooking Carter, an English immigrant who gifted £2,240 from his estate to the Royal Society of New Zealand. The building was designed by architect William Gray Young. Featuring bold red brickwork and clean profiles with well-balanced square shapes. A sundial sits to the right of the building, which was gifted to the gardens to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Plimmer family settling in Wellington. During school terms the centre is working with school groups, and open to the public, Tuesday and Friday evenings and weekends, while during school holidays it is open every day. There is no better place to learn about the beauty and the greatness of the universe around us than at Space Place.

 

NAIRN STREET COTTAGE

The history of a city is just as important as its future, which makes Nairn Street Cottage in Wellington particularly important as it’s the city’s oldest original cottage. Built in 1858 by Willliam Wallis who, along with his wife Catherine, arrived by ship to Wellington in 1857, the cottage saw three generations of the Wallis family experience life here. Visitors gain an insight into life over a century through a tour of the cottage with an expert guide and can enjoy an exhibition detailing the history and effects on society next door. This beautiful cottage with a heritage garden is open for tours on weekends during winter and every day during summer months. Where the visitors are looking to reminisce or show the next generation how life changed for them, this is a beautiful way to spend an afternoon in the fringes of the city.

CABLE CAR MUSEUM

The Cable Car Museum is an ode to this beloved local icon; the Wellington Cable Car. Situated in the original 1902 winding house at the top of the Wellington Botanic Gardens, where the two original cars are housed. Discover their history, mechanics, and even climb aboard the ‘Relentless Red Rattler.’

Delve further into their past and see a short film about the evolution of Wellington’s iconic transport system from the 1900s to the present day. Witness the original winding machinery in action, which has been restored to working order. This captivating piece of technology is one of the few remaining working models of its kind left in the world.

The Museum also provides a wonderful store selling New Zealand souvenirs, books, transport models and more. The Cable Car Museum is located next to the Kelburn terminus of the Cable Car, with its breath-taking views of Wellington City. Ride the Cable Car down the hill or take a wander down through the Wellington Botanic Gardens.

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