Te Papa Tongarewa, 55 Cable Street, Wellington

01/12/2014 - 05/02/2015

Production Details

Download the tour mp3 file from 

Start the track at the main entrance of Te Papa, ground floor. 

About the performance:

This a 40 minute audio tour that you can do any time that Te Papa is open, using your own smart phone or other device. It is a solo-experience.

The tour involves listening and moving at the same time. It also takes you up and down some stairs.

Please note, due to the current exhibition, all redshirts are in “hidden” mode. You can still identify them by their black dinosaur tops.

At:  Te Papa Tongarewa (not affiliated)
55 Cable Street, Wellington  
Ongoing during Te Papa opening hours
UNTIL 8 February 2015.


Exciting, cool and inexpensive

Review by Hannah Smith 04th Dec 2014

Binge Culture are one of Wellington’s most creative and prolific theatre companies – seemingly inventing new ways to collide theatre and social experience in each successive project.  In recent years their work has explored the lived experiences of duration (Break Up [We Need To Talk]) community (The Whales) and happiness (Project Joy) amongst numerous others, and each Binge performance feels like it is part artwork, part science experiment – in which the audience volunteer is willing guinea pigs.

The unauthorised tour of Te Papa is an audio file, which you can either download at your convenience, or stream on the available but unreliable free wifi – I recommend the former.  Armed with file, headphones, and listening device, your journey starts in the foyer of the museum, as Joel Baxendale and Ralph Upton guide you on an unusual journey through some of Te Papa’s less celebrated corners, asking you to consider architectural dead ends and cul-de sacs with the curatorial interest normally reserved for the flashier of exhibitions.

Upton and Baxendale maintain a serio-comic tone throughout. While they send up aspects of the museum, the ribbing is good-natured, and I see no reason Te Papa should not adopt (and authorise?) the tour.  It is a work of art.  The whole is impeccably timed, and designed to the building – do not be fooled by the low-key attitude of the hosts.

The piece plays with the way people interact with social space, observe and are observed: we are all exhibitionists; are we all part of some giant exhibition? As I move through the museum I am uncomfortably aware of the people all around me, each moving on their own trajectory and driven by their own agenda. 

As an investigation of paranoia, observation and shared social space the piece is original and exciting. In several sections the audio plays with video game forms, casting the physical environment as a challenge to be overcome, and asking the listener to seek objects that will help us ‘level up’.  I find this thread of the experience less successful than the undercurrent of general paranoia that focalises around the surveillance from the ‘red-shirts.’ This culminates in a mad dash that is both thrilling and terrifying (I am starring in my own version of Utopia) and also slightly embarrassing (I find myself running pell-mell past a tour-guide and 25 children). 

Binge’s Unauthorised Tour of Te Papa is an exciting way to interact with a familiar institution, as both a physical and social space. I’d love to encounter more work like this. If you are looking for something cool and inexpensive to do in Wellington, this is it.


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