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How to use Collections Online

Searching

Enter your search term into the search box; this will search across all our collections, people, places, categories, scientific classification, topics and publications. Scroll down the search results page to see results from each of the sections.

Browsing

Te Papa’s collection items are all related to people, places, categories, other objects, and topics. See the Related Information section on each page for suggested paths to related people, places and categories, you may find something you didn’t know you were looking for.

For related objects, you may notice a filter that helps you refine the type of objects and how they are3 related, for example related objects on a Place page may “Depict”, be “Made at”, “influenced by”, or “refer to” the place.

Images and other media

Many of the collection objects available on collections online have images. These images may be of from different sources, and the quality may vary. However, may are high resolution, and zoomable. Click the magnifying glass icon beneath the image or click/tap on the image to begin the zoom function.

Some common Questions:

Q: Are all of Te Papa’s collection objects and specimens available online?
A: There is currently information for just over 400,000 of Te Papa’s collections items available through collections Online. The total collection size is estimated to be around 2 million objects and specimens, but it really depends on how you define an “item”. There are jars full of specimens of the same species that are unlikely to be described individually, and rolls of photographic film that contain multiple images, sheets of identical postage stamps etc. It is not necessarily simple or useful to make all of these available on line as individual objects. There are also a few objects that are restricted, for example images of human remains.
Q: Why don’t all the collection objects and specimens have images?
A: Te Papa’s collections have been built over nearly 150 years and are estimated to be approximately 2 million artworks, photographs, objects and specimens.

A collection this large and diverse can create a number of headaches when it comes to digitisation. Some objects require specialist imaging techniques. Some objects may require conservation or stabilisation first. Some objects are too large and may need to wait until the object is installed in an exhibition. Some of our collections are not yet catalogued in digital form at all, so before we can image these, we must catalogue them. And of course like most heritage institutions, we have finite resources for digitisation.

And there is also copyright, often we need permission from the creator of a collection object or artwork before we can make the image available online. Sometimes we have images for things we don’t have rights clearances for; sometimes we have rights clearances for objects not imaged. Sometimes we have permission from an artist or estate for one work, but not others. Digitisation and copyright clearances are ongoing work and we continue to make more images available every month.

Q: Can I use your images in my school project/blog/research paper/publication?
A: Often yes, but it will depend on the type of object, when the object was made, and what you would like to use it for. Find more information here.