The Museum of Wellington City & Sea is located on Queens Wharf in the historic Wellington Harbour Board Office and Bond Store building on Jervois Quay.
The building, which was built in 1892, was designed in French Second Empire style by architect Frederick de Jersey Clere.
The museum got its start in 1972, when it opened as the Wellington Harbour Board Maritime Museum, housing the Harbour Board’s collection of artifacts and recounting Wellington’s maritime history. With the conclusion of the Harbour Board in 1989 the museum was transferred to Wellington City Council.
Following the creation of Te Papa, as New Zealand’s national museum, it was thought that a museum that focused specifically on Wellington’s local history was needed. So in 1999, after an extensive restoration project, the maritime museum reopened as the Museum of Wellington City & Sea.
The museum is open every day, except for Christmas Day, from 10am to 5pm. Entry is free.
The museum is divided into three floors.
In the Telling Tales exhibition on the ground floor visitors can follow a timeline of significant events of 20th century Wellington. A highlight is the display of a replica of the crown jewels. These were made for the 1939 Centennial Exhibition.
The first floor explores Wellington’s maritime history. Children will enjoy Jack’s Boathouse, where they can climb aboard a dingy and man the helm of a ship.
Also on the first floor is an exhibition dedicated the Wahine Disaster, in which 51 people died when the Lyttelton to Wellington interisland ferry sank in the entrance to Wellington harbour on April 10th 1968. A short documentary film with news footage from the day screens every 30 minutes.
On the second floor visitors can learn more about Wellington’s early history and what life was life then.
Also on the second floor is A Millennium Ago, a short film with hollographic effects that screens every 30 minutes. In the 12 minute film actor and broadcaster Joanna Paul tells the Māori legends of how a Taniwha created Wellington’s harbour and how Maui tricked his grandmother into giving him fire.
3 Jervois Quay
10am – 5pm every day, except Christmas Day