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281 Karangahape Rd Auckland

Bronwyn Labrum

Real Modern


The decades of the 1950s and ’60s continue to exert a powerful fascination, as seen in the lasting popularity of Mad Men, Crown Lynn collectibles and mid-century design. In New Zealand, these years have been remembered in popular culture as a ‘golden age’ of God, Queen and Country, full employment, the baby boom, Sir Edmund Hillary and ‘Ladies, a plate!’ – as well as the birth of the teenager and the seedbed of later change. But what was life really like?

Real Modern tells a vibrant and varied story of real life in this compelling era through images and, above all, objects. It is a rich compendium of the things that New Zealanders acquired and desired, that they used at school, work or play, and that they wore and saw around the country. Accompanied by lively and expert text by author Bronwyn Labrum, these objects evoke everyday life and offer insight into the social, political and cultural history of postwar New Zealand.

Featuring hundreds of stunning new photographs from Te Papa, New Zealand’s national museum, and collections nationwide, Real Modern is a celebration of the things of the 1950s and ’60s and the people who used them. It is a fresh and nuanced view of these familiar yet surprising times.