Credit: National Aquarium of New Zealand

Posted on 08 June 2022

Thousands roped in to help create The Unseen

World Oceans Day is a time for celebrating and honouring our moana – making it a fitting last day for the exhibition of The Unseen at the National Aquarium of New Zealand (NANZ) in Ahuriri/Napier. 

The art-science installation, which opened at the Aquarium on 11 March, has received over 25,000 visitors. 

The exhibition has been an “exciting installation for the whole NANZ team as they consider the different ways they can engage their visitors with science and helping them understand the impacts our environment is facing” said NANZ General Manager Rachel Haydon. 

“It has been a joy to watch our youngest visitors engage with the piece, taking time to feel the rope, search for shapes and engage with the work as it was intended.” 

The collaborative community artwork was the design of science communicator Gabby O’Connor, who had the idea while in Antarctica, watching rope being used as a research tool by scientists. The project was then brought to life by the unseen hands of more than 5,000 participants over the last four years. 

While at the Aquarium, 2,159 local school students, along with 950 members of the public, have contributed to the artwork through outreach workshops run by the NANZ education team. 

Gabby's mahi, part of our Navigating marine social-ecological systems project, aims to raise awareness of the link between environmental change and the marine environment. 

After the exhibition, the rope used will be recycled for other community projects and groups who have expressed an interest in repurposing the pieces. The cable ties will be donated to a recycled plastics design programme that transforms plastic waste into new objects. 

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