Wellington's Te Papa closing to 'protect community' against coronavirus spread

The museum will review its closure in two weeks.
The museum will review its closure in two weeks. Photo credit: File

Wellington's Te Papa Museum will close to protect the community against the spread of COVID-19 - but says people will still be able to visit "from their living rooms".

The museum will close from 6pm on Friday but its offices will remain open, allowing staff to continue working.

The situation will be reviewed in two weeks. 

"We have plans in place to care for the collections, and provide online access to the taonga, expertise and storytelling for which Te Papa is famous," says Dame Fran Wilde, chair of Te Papa's board.  

"We will be creating some fantastic opportunities for people to visit Te Papa from their own living room."

Chief executive Courtney Johnston says the decision to close was made after it became clear it was not possible to enforce social distancing or trace close contacts of visitors.

"Te Papa is a large public building where people move freely in and out, and share a social, hands-on experience," she said.

"Thousands of people come through Te Papa every day, and while numbers have been reduced, it is still a significant gathering place, where tracing of contacts is not possible."

Johnston says a large amount of content will be shared online.

"We will be creating some special experiences for people to enjoy from home." 

The close will not impact the employment of any staff.