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Te Papa’s new art gallery a game changer for art in New Zealand

Toi Art, New Zealand’s spectacular new art gallery, will be officially opened by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern at Te Papa on Friday 16 March, 6.30pm.

The new $8.4 million art gallery spans two levels of the museum and is part of a major renewal of all Te Papa’s exhibition spaces.

Ms Ardern says the new art gallery at Te Papa is a landmark for art in New Zealand.

The portrait wall in Tūrangawaewae: Art and New Zealand, 2018. Photograph by Michael O’Neill.  Image is courtesy of Te Papa.

“Toi Art is all about the fact that art is for everyone, and I believe every New Zealander will find something here that speaks to them, something to amaze and challenge them.”

“Art is a vital part of our lives. It is fantastic that as a free, family-friendly experience, the new gallery will make it more accessible to more people,” says Ms Ardern.

The gallery is free to enter, and opens to the public at 10am on Saturday 17 March. As well as art exhibitions it offers hands-on art activities for children, and interactive experiences like a virtual reality visit to an artist’s studio.

Evan Williams, Chairman of the Te Papa Board, says Toi Art is a new home for New Zealand art, and a place where all visitors can find something to enjoy.

“Toi Art will showcase iconic works from the national art collection, alongside new art created especially for this space.”

“As holders of the national art collection, we are uniquely placed to tell the story of art in New Zealand, and this new space offers the chance to do just that,” says Mr Williams.

A significant new project by leading contemporary artist Michael Parekowhai takes on the first space of the new art gallery. 

Toi Art also opens with two major retrospective shows, Pacific Sisters: Fashion Activists and Lisa Walker: I want to go to my bedroom but I can’t be bothered, and two exhibitions showcasing the national art collection, alongside nine new artworks and installations.

Beloved works from the national collection will also be on show, including paintings by C.F. Goldie, Gottfried Lindauer, Rita Angus, Ralph Hotere, Colin McCahon, Gordon Walters, and Robyn Kahukiwa.

Charlotte Davy, Te Papa Head of Art, says the new gallery offers incredible new opportunities.

“Toi Art is a game changer for art in New Zealand. The vast new entrance gallery is larger than any space at Te Papa, and will enable us to showcase works that have never been seen before.”

“There’ll be performance, dance, fashion, film, music, large-scale and new immersive works on show, which is now made possible by the size of the new gallery spaces,” says Ms Davy.

The new Warren and Mahoney-designed gallery has 35% more floor space for art in the national museum, with flexible gallery spaces to show large-scale and immersive new works.

Warren and Mahoney Principal Architect Katherine Skipper says the gallery has been designed to welcome people into the space, and to encourage them to engage with art.

The opening weekend (17-18 March) will welcome people into Toi Art, with a programme of free events and performances – including a free Saturday night gig in the gallery headlined by LA-based musician Chelsea Jade and rising Auckland electronica stars SoccerPractise.

Exhibitions opening in Toi Art include:

Toi Art will also open with new works by contemporary artists from around the country – including Helen Calder, Lonnie Hutchison, Janet Lilo, Jeena Shin, Tiffany Singh, Ngataihauru Taepa, and Sopolemalama Filipe Tohi.

The new gallery is an NZD$8.4 million investment in art at Te Papa, which includes a grant from the Lottery Environment and Heritage Fund.

The new art gallery is the first of a series of changes to the museum, as Te Papa transforms its 20 year old permanent exhibits over the coming years. Te Papa will remain open throughout the changes.


Updated on 19th March 2018