Outside Te Papa entrance
This underground space displays some of the 135 base isolators that Te Papa sits on. These devices ‘put the brakes on’ and reduce the severity of the shaking felt inside the building in the event of a major earthquake, and protect the people and contents inside.
The base isolators are large rubber blocks laminated with steel, and with pure lead columns inside. They are the invention of New Zealand scientist Dr William Robinson, and are now in use in buildings around the world in areas that are subject to earthquakes. The ingenious lead-and-rubber isolators both isolate the building from the earthquake and damp, or absorb, much of the shaking from the quake.
In Quake Braker you can see a cross-section of a base isolator, a scratch pad that shows the movement between the building and its base, and a video that tells the ‘foundation' story of Te Papa. You can also try out an interactive ‘shake table’ illustrating how lead-and-rubber base isolators work in an earthquake.