Te Papa is closing its doors to the public from 6pm today for at least two weeks due to concerns over Covid-19.
The museum's board chair Dame Fran Wilde said the decision was made after careful consideration.
"We are not able to enforce social distancing within the museum, and we want to protect our community and support the efforts of all of New Zealand to reduce the risk of Covid-19, she said.
"The health of our visitors, our staff and our community is of paramount importance."
Staff would continue to work from their offices and there were plans in place to care for collections and provide online access to more museum resources, she said.
"We will be creating some fantastic opportunities for people to visit Te Papa from their own living room," Wilde said.
The museum will review the decision in two weeks and advise the public on Friday, April 3 of its status.
Tumu Whakarae chief executive Courtney Johnston said the decision took into account Te Papa's unique situation.
"Te Papa is a large public building where people move freely in and out, and share a social, hands-on experience.
"Thousands of people come through Te Papa every day, and while numbers have been reduced in recent days, it is still a significant gathering place, where tracing of contacts is not possible.
"We have made this call to reduce the risk to our staff and visitors, and to play our part in the national response to Covid-19."
The decision to close would not affect the employment status of staff, Johnston said.