Te Papa visitor numbers bounce back, with more than 1.5m in past year
War, aeroplanes and dinosaurs have helped propel visits to the national museum to near record numbers.
After visitor numbers at Te Papa fell to the lowest level in nine years in 2013-14, the museum has rebounded strongly, leaping up 20 per cent with 1,556,164 people through the doors, latest figures show.
The numbers were recorded in the Wellington City Council's draft annual report, which said the museum was "exceeding targets across all measures" with "several notable exhibitions" driving up the attendance, along with events such as the Cricket World Cup drawing more people into Wellington.
The year comes second only to 2008-09, when there were 1,563,624 visitors.
Te Papa communications manager Kate Camp said the success was driven by three exhibitions in particular.
Tyrannosaurs – Meet the Family drew in 127,000 people, while Air New Zealand – 75 Years attracted 378,000, with a further 109,000 taking the chance to step inside a cockpit in the Te Papa forecourt.
Meanwhile, despite having been open for only two months when the financial year ended, Gallipoli – Scale of Our War had also made a huge impact, she said.
To date 233,000 people had visited it, and it was on track to become the museum's most successful exhibition.
The Gallipoli and Air New Zealand exhibitions were the second and third most popular in terms of daily visitor numbers in the museum's history, beaten only by Kia Ora Kiwi, a three-week show back in 2000.
The local history and quality of the story-telling were significant to the exhibitions' success, Camp said.
In particular, the large models created by Weta Workshop for Gallipoli helped tell the story of the war and its impact in a human way, to which people could relate.
"It takes the approach of making you make up your mind about World War I, about Gallipoli."
Te Papa was in the process of changing all the permanent exhibitions in the museum, which would give locals a reason to come back and revisit it, she said.
"There's always something new."
Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown said the visitor numbers showed the quality of the exhibitions. "People feel there is always something to see."
It was also good news for the capital and a testament to good marketing of the city as a place to visit, she said.