Up to half of Te Papa's national collection is to be distributed out of Wellington with most of it to be moved to a site yet to be built in South Auckland.
The museum's chairman, Evan Williams, said the move had been spurred by new information on risks and storage issues at Te Papa buildings.
He said criticism that the collection move would harm Wellington's research industry was scaremongering.
"What we are going to be doing, and I've made it really, really clear everywhere and we've got media releases, everything out, is to say, we're not touching a thing without very, very extensive consultation," he said.
"And if the result of what we were doing, as one commentator said, would be to rip the guts out of the Wellington science community, we wouldn't do it. End of story."
Mr Williams said some of the collection may also be stored in Christchurch.