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Taking science to the next level at Waikato Museum

3 July 2024

The second half of an extensive redevelopment of Exscite, Waikato Museum Te Whare Taonga o Waikato’s interactive centre for discovery, will be publicly revealed on Friday 5 July. 

"From prehistoric fossils and pest control to atoms and astronomy, Exscite is a whole new way of looking at science. This is the culmination of months of planning, dreaming, and making by the Waikato Museum team and our partners. We can’t wait to see the refurbished space full of tamariki engaging and learning in new ways,” said Liz Cotton, Director of Museum and Arts, Waikato Museum.

In recent months the upper floor of the much-loved children’s science gallery has been completely refurbished and named ‘Exscite: Taiao’, in continuation of 2023’s renewal of the downstairs space, known as ‘Exscite: Home’. Using the awa as inspiration, Exscite: Taiao focuses on Aotearoa New Zealand’s interconnected natural environment while Exscite: Home showcases the way science is an integral part of everyday life in a fun and approachable way. 

The new exhibition ranges from high-tech interactives, such as a touch-screen colouring activity to create manu (birds) which then fly in a digital forest, to one of the stars of Waikato Museum’s collection: the 30 million year old fossil of the Kaawhia giant penguin (Kairuku waewaeroa). The specimen was discovered on the Waikato coastline by school children in 2006 and has been confirmed as a previously unknown prehistoric species.

“This phase of the Exscite redevelopment has involved extensive research, experimentation, and construction, drawing on many sources including maatauranga Maaori (knowledge). The scientific concepts underpinning the exhibits have been developed in alignment with Aotearoa New Zealand’s school curriculum so that Exscite provides an engaging space for learning outside of the classroom,” said Cotton.   

“The effort from our kaimahi (staff) has been unparalleled. Most of what you see here has been built by our Museum team, who have created the majority of the interactives from scratch. A huge thank you to everyone who helped us on this journey, especially the team at Datacom and the Exscite Trust.” 

Exscite opened at Waikato Museum in 1996 as the region’s first science centre for children. The facility will remain open whilst the rest of Waikato Museum is closed for renovations from 22 July to December 2024. 

Exscite will be closed temporarily on 22 and 23 July for a new entrance to be completed on the river-facing side of the Museum, and open to the public again from Wednesday 24 July 2024. Entry fees apply. 

More information can be found at 


Please note

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.