New Turnbull Library exhibition (Wellington): ‘An ornament to the town – The band rotunda in New Zealand’

Turnbull Gallery | National Library of New Zealand, Molesworth Street, Wellington

13 March – 2 June 2017 | 10am – 5pm, Monday – Saturday | Level one

Band rotundas are an attractive feature of cities and towns across New Zealand. Popular enthusiasm for brass band music led to as many as 100 rotundas being built from the 1880s to the 1930s – Wellington alone had nine. Much admired as civic ‘ornaments’, these elegant structures sheltered musicians while they performed for the public, projecting their music out across parks and botanic gardens, beaches and city streets. They’ve often been used for other purposes, too, including municipal receptions, speeches and protest events.

This exhibition explores the unique heritage of the New Zealand band rotunda through photographs, postcards, architectural plans, ephemera, sound recordings, paintings and more. As many rotundas have been have lost over the years, now is a good time to renew our appreciation of these delightful fixtures.

A programme of free public events (inlcuding live music) at the Library is being held in conjunction with the exhibition. For further details, see:


The exhibition has been curated by Dr Michael Brown (Music Curator, Alexander Turnbull Library) and Associate Professor Samantha Owens (Victoria University of Wellington).

For more information, including tours, call 0800 474 300 or email