Chart-toppers including Lorde have collaborated on a new exhibition bringing their music to life.

Split Enz, Chris Knox, Tami Neilson and countless others have lent priceless memorabilia from their careers - in Lorde's case one of her Grammy Awards - to take part in Volume: Making Music in Aotearoa, at the Auckland War Memorial Museum.

The exhibition is open until May next year and features a mammoth 200 items and 500 photos spanning New Zealand's music history.

Lorde, real name Ella Yellich-O'Connor, also lent the outfit she wore on stage at the awards.


Featured alongside that more current outfit are Split Enz' classic suit costumes, and lyrics penned by Neil Finn.

Chris Knox's four-track recorder is also on display, as is an interactive DJ booth.

The items date back to the 1950s and at the opening event on Thursday night, radio DJ and MC Karen Hay said that was part of what made the exhibition so special.

Hay said it was touching to see local musicians being celebrated.

"We embrace it as an art form that's valuable and that's taken a long time to do."

Cultural cringe around New Zealand music had been heartbreaking to see in previous decades, and having young artists such as Lorde so well-loved was a welcome change, Hay said.

Silver Scroll winner Neilson, who had a touring poster and a signed copy of Loretta Lynn's autobiography featured in the exhibition, said as a Canadian-born artist it felt extremely special to be included.

"It feels like I'm being embraced and accepted by New Zealand."

Jools and Lynda Topp with The Chicks Judy Hindman and Suzanne Lynch at the exhibition. Photo / Dean Purcell
Jools and Lynda Topp with The Chicks Judy Hindman and Suzanne Lynch at the exhibition. Photo / Dean Purcell

Moana Maniapoto, of Moana and the Tribe, had a conch shell and her international songwriting award on display.

She was the first Kiwi artist to win that specific award.

The conch shell represented her band's fusion of Maori and reggae music, she said.

Auckland Museum's Esther Tobin, who helped bring the project together, said she hoped the exhibition would be a trip down memory lane for older fans and inspire the next generation to make music.