Welcome aboard – an exhibition review
See the gallery below for images.
NOTE: This exhibition has now closed.
It was another humid, sweltering Auckland day. What better to do than hang out in the cool of the Auckland Museum – that impressive landmark built in 1929 on the crater of Pukekawa.
The draw card – a free exhibition celebrating 75 years of our national airline at Auckland Museum, that began with a display of the ‘high-flying fashion’ over the years. Dim light and a dark velvety background enhanced the impact of the uniform collection. From early military-like designs (thought to be authoritative and reassuring in an era when passengers were unlikely to have much flying experience), to the 1961 TEAL ‘Coral Route’ uniform designed by Christian Dior, and made locally by El Jay. More recent designs certainly paled in comparison.
The main exhibition area used light and colour to create spaces for themes. It quickly became obvious the exhibition budget was generous, with two full-sized replicas of actual aircraft interiors and a myriad of touch screens, a range of bespoke display cases and slick graphic design. Exhibition goers marvelled at the leg room and luxury inside the Solent seaplane cabin and the Douglas DC-8 jet. No detail was ignored. From the embroidered head rest covers to the ‘cabin window displays’ of inflight 60’s games, Crown Lynn crockery, swizzle sticks and even the ashtrays.
Other areas of the exhibit covered the history of flying in Auckland, a colourful ode to the former TEAL (Tasman Empire Airways Ltd), the people responsible for the ‘90 minute turn-around’ from arrival to take off again, and a separated quiet zone “With Respect” to reflect on the Erebus disaster. Opportunities to interact included screens for colouring your own plane exterior, a postcard nook to share your best flight experience, and an area to write up your ideas for the flight experience of the future. Kids were kept entertained with colouring in and miniature Captain’s uniforms to try on.
The novel Virtual Reality feature involved yet another cabin experience but one where you donned Oculus goggles and were run through ANZ’s ideas for future flying – being transported anywhere in the world (or outside your reality) while in the comfort of your chair. The trip began with native ferns sprouting beneath the seats in front of you as a moa ran down your aisle (the DOC partnership influence?) before being transported to a beach in the tropics, watching fireworks in Hong Kong and finishing beneath the Northern Lights. While the animation was a little clunky it was still impressive and immersive and can only get more realistic as the technology advances. Perhaps too, a way to ease the journey for those with flying phobias.
On exiting there was an opportunity to buy the memorabilia from your childhood flights – bags, model planes on stands (who buys those?) and reproduction crockery. Another sign of a well-resourced and ultimately slick exhibition.