What's On @ Otago Museum | Week of 15 July 2019

We are thrilled that this Sunday, 21 July, the exhibition James Cameron - Challenging the Deep is opening in Otago Museum's Special Exhibition gallery!

Developed by the Australian National Maritime Museum in Sydney, in collaboration with the Avatar Alliance Foundation, James Cameron – Challenging the Deep takes visitors to the depths of our oceans through the lenses of Cameron’s underwater cameras, and his other incredible technological innovations that have made it possible to explore some of the most mysterious parts of our planet.

Image courtesy of Australian National Maritime Museum
Image courtesy of Australian National Maritime Museum

This immersive media exhibition will take you on a journey with acclaimed explorer and filmmaker James Cameron, from the deepest parts of the ocean,  to some of his Oscar-winning films.

See his record-breaking dives in the DEEPSEA CHALLENGER submersible and science platform he designed and built, and experience how his curiosity for understanding and exploring our oceans has shone a light on some of the least known places on earth.

Visitors watch as Cameron explores the wreck of RMS Titanic on three expeditions and can see models, hand props and costumes from his blockbuster film Titanic. Highlights include the dress worn by Kate Winslet’s character Rose, the boarding outfit worn by Leonardo DiCaprio’s character Jack, the iconic 'Heart of the Ocean' necklace, and Jack’s sketches, which were drawn by James Cameron himself.

Image courtesy of Australian National Maritime Museum
Image courtesy of Australian National Maritime Museum

Visitors will voyage with Cameron to the deepest known point of the earth’s surface on his historic solo dive more than 10 000 metres down to the bottom of the Mariana Trench in the revolutionary Deepsea Challenger submersible.
Image courtesy of Australian National Maritime Museum
Image courtesy of Australian National Maritime Museum

Throughout the duration of the exhibition, we will be holding a suite of interactive talks, public programmes, events, and workshops relating to the themes of the exploration, arts and culture, expeditions, the ocean, and conservation. We have partnered with the DCC to kick off the events with Oceans in the Octagon, an afternoon of family-friendly fun and hands-on activities in the Octagon. The event will be MC'd by the wonderful Tahu Mackenzie, and will provide ocean-themed interactive activity stations with the Otago Museum Tech Tent, as well as Fun Science with Amadeo, live music, food stalls and more!

We gratefully acknowledge the support of major partner NIWA and strategic partners the Otago Community Trust, the Otago Daily Times, and Mediaworks.

Check out the public programme here!

James Cameron - Challenging the Deep
$9.50 Children | $14.50 Consession | $17.50 Adults | $45 Families
Open from 21 July 2019 until 9 February 2020.



The University of Otago's paleoceanographer, Dr Christina Riesselman, and paleoclimatologist, Dr. Chris Moy, are among 30 researchers currently in the Southern Ocean on board the JOIDES Resolution, a scientific drilling research ship operated by the International Ocean Discovery Program.

Join them for this ship-to-shore live stream, and hear first-hand about Expedition 383, DYNAPACC: Dynamic of Pacific Antarctic Circumpolar Current.

They’ll take you on a tour of the ship, starting outside with a view of the drill rig floor, then moving into the shipboard lab spaces. You‘ll see the team processing cores, hear about their latest discoveries, and learn more about ship life on board the JOIDES Resolution.

Free | Barclay Theatre
5.30pm, Tuesday 16 July

More information here


To get hyped for the upcoming James Cameron – Challenging the Deep exhibition, we have partnered with the DCC to provide an afternoon of family-friendly fun and hands-on activities in the Octagon!

The event will be MC'd by the wonderful Tahu Mackenzie and will provide ocean-themed interactive activity stations with the OM Tech Tent, as well as Fun Science with Amadeo, live music, food stalls and more!

Free | The Octagon
1pm–4pm, Saturday, 20 July

More information here


Ahoy there! Take the plunge and explore deep into our galleries. What strange, wonderful items and information will you find?

Complete the trail to claim your reward.

Otago Museum gallery trails are a perfect day out during long school holidays. Take your favourite small person on a treasure hunt through the Museum and follow the clues to collect your prize!

Free | Start from the Info Desk
Throughout the day, Sunday 21 July

More information here


Join the OM team outside the Museum for a day of hands-on, deep sea-inspired science explorations and lots more.

Learn how oceans absorb heat from the atmosphere, discover more about the impact of global warming, see demonstrations of acidification of the ocean, hear about density and learn just what happens when salty water meets fresh.

Check out marine specimens under microscopes in Lab in a Box, or get up close to marine flora and fauna at the Marine Studies Aqua Van and touch tank.

Get crafty at the Ocean Explorers Makerspace tables: make a paper squid plane, create an Anglerfish shadow puppet, or challenge yourself with a deep sea inspired thaumatrope.

Strike a pose at the selfie station, or take the plunge and explore deep into the Ocean Explorers gallery trail.

FREE | Museum Reserve
10am–5pm, Sunday 21 July

More information here


We have invited four scientists from NIWA (the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research) involved in various fields of research to give 30 minute presentations about their research and the technology they use. 

Imaging Aotearoa's Seafloor – 10.30am
Dr Joshu Mountjoy is a marine geoscientist who leads the Marine Geological Processes science research programme at NIWA, Wellington. His broad interest is the shape of the seafloors – spanning submarine canyons, landslides, active tectonics, and offshore groundwater systems, as well as lakes. Read more.

Watching the Seaweed – 11am
Dr Leigh Tait will reflect on a recent project looking at aerial views of seaweed recovery along the Kaikoura coastline where the 2016 earthquake lifted huge areas of submerged reef metres out of the water. He’ll also show how a customised ROV can help us track a range of threats to marine ecosystems. Read more.

Voyaging the Ice – 11.30am
Dr Richard O'Driscoll will talk about his experiences sailing to Antarctica, and working in, and on, the icy waters. He’ll also provide a snapshot of some of NIWA’s fascinating science to build vital knowledge of the ice continent and the ocean that surrounds it. Read more.

Roaming Robots – 12pm
Dr Joe O'Callaghan is a physical oceanographer at NIWA. Her work focuses on understanding regions of the ocean – the coast and shelf seas – where New Zealanders work and play. The latest observational tools Joe uses are ocean gliders, which are emerging at the forefront of ocean science. She will talk about new insights discovered from ‘roaming robot’ missions around New Zealand. Read more.

Free | Beautiful Science gallery
10.30am, 11am, 11.30am and 12pm | Sunday 21 July

More information here


This documentary focuses on the making of the sci-fi film, The AbyssThe Abyss is about an American submarine sinking in the Caribbean, and what the recovery team find during their search in the depths of the ocean. Sometimes described as one of the most difficult shoots in cinematographic history, this documentary explores that challenge.

Under Pressure: Making 'The Abyss' details the gruelling nature of the six-month shoot, where Cameron and the dive crew would work 17 metres underwater for five-hour periods, and the innovative equipment developed for filming in such tough conditions.

With commentary by various actors and crew, outtakes, and behind-the-scenes footage of the actual shooting of the film, this is a fascinating insight into the underwater world and the demands of capturing it on film.

Free | Barclay Theatre
1.30pm, Sunday 21 July

More information here


A 2005 American documentary film, directed in part by James Cameron, alongside fellow cameraman and friend, Steven Quale.

Cameron teams up with NASA scientists and marine biologists to explore the mid-ocean ridges, submerged chains of mountains in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans that are home to some of the planet's more unusual forms of life.

The documentary shows Cameron's passion for exploring the oceans, and his interest in extraterrestrial life, and showcases the technology employed to reach such depths.

Free | Barclay Theatre
2.45pm, Sunday 21 July

More information here


Capcom GO! The Apollo Story is our newest immersive 3D Planetarium show documenting the Apollo programme, and what it took to put the first person on the Moon 50 years ago. Discover the story behind this historic moment, which continues to inspire generations of explorers and dreamers.

On 20 July, 1969, 600 million people around the world gathered to witness an historic moment of human achievement, broadcast live from the Moon. “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind”, Neil Armstrong famously said, as the world celebrated the astronauts taking their first steps on the Moon. Few people were aware of just how huge an effort it had been to get them there though.

These Apollo 11 astronauts were just two of nearly 400 000 people who had worked for more than 10 years towards this goal.

But how did they do it? Come to the Planetarium and find out!

$7–$10 | Perpetual Guardian Planetarium
10.30am, 12.30pm and 3.30pm | 6–20 July

More information here


Our special school holiday pop-up exhibit will be answering some key questions:

  • How do we know what our climate was like in the past? 
  • How is it changing today, and why?
  • What can we do about it, as individuals, and as a nation?

We will be exploring the theme of our changing climate, in New Zealand and around the world, and considering what solutions we have at our fingertips.

Come along to learn how corals, ice sheets and pollen grains record our climate history. Test how our oceans are changing today with some fun experiments. Share a bright idea or make a personal pledge to help reduce your carbon footprint, and be in to win a free pass to Tūhura Otago Community Trust Science Centre for an adult and child each week of the holidays!

Free | Atrium Level 1
12.30pm and 3.30pm daily, until 21 July

More information here


CLOSING THIS THURSDAY – explore the natural world through the finest images and videos from Otago’s most talented amateur photographers and videographers.

Free | Beautiful Science gallery
More information here