The Otago Museum was established in 1868 based on a significant collection of rocks and minerals that Sir James Hector collected for the NZ Geological Survey and was shown in the 1865 New Zealand Exhibition. As the collection grew, it became apparent that a purpose-built building was needed, and the current 419 Great King Street location was chosen. It opened in 1877. The Hocken Wing, named for Thomas Morland Hocken, opened in 1910 with a collection that later formed the basis of the Hocken Library. The Fels Wing, named for benefactor Willi Fels, opened in 1930. A redevelopment during the 1990s and 2000s added the central Atrium area. The Tropical Forest, our immersive butterfly experience, was added in 2007, and in 2015 the Perpetual Guardian Planetarium opened within our existing buildings. The Museum is now a complex of seven different buildings, and is classified as a Category 1 historic place.

Over the years, Museum staff and generous benefactors have collected, excavated, acquired, donated and bequeathed a vast number of rare, special and valuable collection items. Our collection spans the globe and shares the cultural and natural stories of Otago, Aotearoa and the world. Today the Museum employs over 130 staff. Our hard work and passion has resulted in the Museum winning widespread awards and recognition including exhibition and design awards, and recognition as a leading visitor attraction. 

One of the main goals of the Otago Museum (from the 5 year strategic plan) is to invest in and maintain our site and facilities to ensure they they are operating in an economically, socially and environmentally responsible manner. As an institution that is representing an entire region, we want to be leaders in responsible operations and help drive industry in sustainable practices, providing the public with an enjoyable experience with minimal environmental impact.


  • Toitū carbonreduce certified organisation

Contact details

419 Great King Street, North Dunedin, Dunedin 9059, NZ

Phone: +64 3 474 7474