Thea Awards Recipients

Thea Awards 2018

Thea Award - Museum exhibit on a limited budget

Gallipoli: The scale of our war - Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, Wellington, New Zealand

The exhibit is anchored by the astonishing execution
of the large-scale figures and the stunning level of detail.
Photo: Michael Hall

The brilliance of this exhibition, as noted by the Thea Awards Committee, is the emotional connection and ingenious presentation of eight sculpted figures, crafted 2.5 times human scale and in hyperreal detail. They tell the epic of New Zealand’s commitment to World War I, and its huge cost in human life. The exhibit includes artifacts, full-scale mock-ups and animated models with time-lapse projection of battles.

Gallipolli: The Scale of Our War is a collaboration of the Te Papa museum and the Weta Workshop. The museum made a bold choice to present the narrative with the eight sculpted figures, crafted with such perfect detail that one can see the sweat on the faces and tears in the eye. The story of the siege is told by the voices of the personalities, carefully chosen to be a cross section of the Gallipoli soldiers (and a nurse). Captured at dramatic moments, they create a powerful emotional link with visitors of all ages.

In 1915, New Zealand troops participated in the storming of the beaches of the Gallipoli Peninsula in what is now Turkey. By the time the tragic battle ended, over 20,700 soldiers lost their lives. While a relatively small campaign in the context of WWI, the New Zealand commitment, including a Maori contingent, played an important role in fostering a sense of national identity.

The ingenious presentation focuses on intimate details - a spoiled can of rations, personal possessions, letters and journals - to support the impact of the giant figures and connect visitors to the horrendous experience and loss of life (53%) in the campaign. The exhibit is anchored by the astonishing execution of the large-scale figures and the stunning level of detail, down to every pore, every bead of sweat, every micro-hair around the eyelash so it feels as if they could start blinking.

The Thea Committee used its Special Discretionary category for this project since its opening date falls outside the usual two-year window of eligibility. (The project opened April 18, 2015.)

Award Credits