Waikato Museum’s Exscite grows into new phase
30 March 2023
Waikato Museum Te Whare Taonga o Waikato’s interactive centre for discovery, Exscite, has undergone the first stage of an extensive redevelopment project to be revealed to the public from Saturday 1 April.
Located on the ground floor of the Museum, the experience is called ‘Exscite: Home’ and showcases the way science is an integral part of everyday life in a fun and approachable way.
“We can’t wait to share this fresh new experience with our Hamilton Kirikiriroa communities, as Exscite is a lifelong favourite for many local families,” said Liz Cotton, Director of Museum and Arts, Waikato Museum.
“This redevelopment has involved months of stimulating research, experimentation, and construction, drawing on many sources including maatauranga Maaori (knowledge). It’s been a real team effort, from staff handcrafting fabric koowhai flowers to improving the much-loved grain machine. The downstairs space has been completely refurbished and our visitors are going to love exploring new interactives alongside well-known features.”
“Exscite: Home will provide the opportunity for tamariki of all ages to get hands-on engaging with scientific concepts – and have a wonderful time while doing it.”
Curator Jon Primmer has overseen the redevelopment.
“Science is social, it’s about connections, it’s everything from the big bang to what’s happening in your backyard. We want to kickstart conversations and encourage our visitors of all ages to engage and explore. Our hope is that Exscite will be a place that continues to plant and nurture the seeds of learning and discovery,” said Jon.
Exscite: Home has been designed to appeal to curious young minds through tactile and immersive surroundings. Themed to evoke a domestic residence, it includes a productive garden filled with soft fabric fruits and vegetables that can be ‘harvested’ and stored in the garden’s paataka kai. This traditional storehouse has been given an eye-catching contemporary twist by artists Lissy and Rudi Robinson-Cole, renowned for their vibrant crochet installations.
Other interactive aspects include a real-time representation of the Moon and its phases, to a speed track that allows you to measure your pace in units displayed on the big screen - you can even see how fast you run compared to a worm. A towering tree with sound and light features can be activated from a circuitry board, and the rewards from making the connections are beautiful.
A highlight of the new space is a ‘firepit’ located in the centre of the space, surrounded by seating. Visitors will be able to activate recordings and hear local stories and waiata or share their own knowledge in the communal setting.
Exscite opened at Waikato Museum in 1996 as the region’s first science centre for children. The launch of Exscite: Home is the first phase of on-going redevelopment and has been supported by the Friends of Waikato Museum through a financial contribution toward the garden area. Future plans include redeveloping the upper floor of Exscite with emphasis on scientific concepts in alignment with Aotearoa New Zealand’s school curriculum, focus on our place on the Waikato River, and provide an engaging space for learning outside of the classroom.
Exscite is located at Waikato Museum, 1 Grantham Street, Hamilton and is open daily 10am to 5pm. More information can be found at www.waikatomuseum.co.nz/exscite
For te reo Maaori, Waikato Museum uses double vowels (uu) in place of vowels with a macron (ū) to represent a long vowel sound. This spelling approach is the preference of tangata whenua in Hamilton Kirikiriroa and Waikato iwi for te reo Maaori words. Artists’ titles are shown in their original form.