Paralysed spiders from Mason bees nest, larvae and pupa, 19 February 1962, Sharell, Richard (1893–1986). Gift of Mrs L. Sharell, 1987. © The Estate of Richard Sharell.  . Te Papa

Enquiries and Identification 

Every year staff at Te Papa field thousands of questions on everything from art to zoology and are asked to identify a bewildering array of objects and natural history specimens. This page tells you how to get the answers you need from our dedicated team of subject experts. 

Please note that in all cases:

  • Te Papa does not provide valuations of objects or specimens
  • Te Papa does not accept any liability arising from the application of advice provided
  • a charge may apply should the work to identify or authenticate an object or answer a question take more than one hour. However, you won't be charged without prior notification. Note also that most routine requests take less than an hour to deal with.


Do you have a question about our collections or the work we do?

Looking for information about a particular topic?

Identification and authentication

Have you found a strange plant or animal and want to know what it is? Do you wish you knew who painted that wonderful old painting that has been in your family for generations? If you want to get a specimen or an object identified or authenticated, here’s how.

Humanities (Art, History, Pacific, Māori)

If you would like to have an object identified from an image file, please use the general enquiry form

If you would like a staff member to examine an object more thoroughly, please do not bring or send objects in without contacting Te Papa first. That way, we can ensure the right person is available to help with your request and can advise you on the best way to make sure the object reaches Te Papa safely. Please be aware that Te Papa has only a limited capacity to temporarily store objects belonging to members of the public. 

Natural History

If you want your specimen identified from an image file, please use the general enquiry form

If you want to send a specimen to us to be identified, the details will change depending on what it is. Please click on the relevant link below for specific information.