A national art gallery

November 29th, 2010 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Kate Newton at the Dom Post reports:

’s new chairman has thrown his weight behind building a $100 million art gallery to house the museum’s formidable – but rarely seen – collection.

Sir , appointed to the top job a fortnight ago, says a standalone gallery is high on his personal agenda as the museum does not do the collection justice.

Te Papa has been criticised by the art community, politicians and the public since it opened in 1998 for not displaying more of the 15,000 artworks in its collection.

Sir Wira said yesterday that he supported Te Papa board member Chris Parkin, who told The Dominion Post he “would really like to leave Wellington with a new national art gallery”.

Mr Parkin said he wanted to see the national collection housed in the proposed “transition building” next to Te Papa. The building was designed for Wellington City Council by Amsterdam-based UNStudios in 2005 but the council has said it is unlikely to go ahead until at least 2014.

Mr Parkin estimated the cost of a new building at $100 million, which he believed could partly be raised from private benefactors.

It is true the art works are almost hidden away at Te Papa, and not enough of them get displayed. It would be nice to have a dedicated gallery for them.

But this is the worst possible time to be proposing it. With a huge fiscal deficit, the Government can not even think about extra funding.

Once we are running a large enough surplus to be reducing debt, then maybe we can discuss it. But that is at least five, possible ten years away.

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47 Responses to “A national art gallery”

  1. Manolo (13,837 comments) says:

    As the good capitalist and keen businessman he is, Mr. Parkin should put his money where his mouth is, build the art gallery, and charge visitors accordingly.

    I look forward to that.

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  2. pdm (844 comments) says:

    What happened to the old Wellington Musuem up by Mt Cook School – if still standing, would that do the job?

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  3. Mr Nobody NZ (391 comments) says:

    Why is it automatically assumed that a National Art Gallery should be located in Wellington? Would it not be more beneficial to locate it Auckland where a far greater number of New Zealanders will have the opportunity to view it.

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  4. gazzmaniac (2,307 comments) says:

    Why should it be housed in a $100M building? What’s wrong with building a cheaper one that’s not an archtect’s wet dream, or even (heaven forbid!) renting or buying a second hand one?

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  5. peterwn (3,275 comments) says:

    pdm – The old National Museum at Mt Cook (the Wellington one, the old jail site – the Mt Cook trig is in the foyer AFAIK) is still standing but is in Maori ownership as part of treaty settlements. Massey University leases it as the centrepiece of its Wellington campus.

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  6. Adolf Fiinkensein (2,903 comments) says:

    Send the bloody pictures to the Auckland Art Gallery. That’s where most of the population lives and you can immediately save $100mil and find something more constructive for Sir Wira to do. Like profiling the sort of people who are likely to beat the shit out of their kids.

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  7. Whoops (136 comments) says:

    “Why should it be housed in a $100M building? What’s wrong with building a cheaper one that’s not an archtect’s wet dream, or even (heaven forbid!) renting or buying a second hand one?”

    And that ladies and gentlemen, is why Sydney has the Opera house and Auckland is getting a ‘temporary structure’.

    For those of you who only heard DPF’s dog whistle… go back and read the last line.

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  8. burt (8,275 comments) says:

    So if we sell all the works that have been locked away unable to be appreciated then we won’t need the $100m building… simple.

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  9. dog_eat_dog (781 comments) says:

    Seconded. The Auckland War Memorial Museum gets more visitors than Te Papa. Auckland or bust.

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  10. big bruv (13,929 comments) says:

    Why do the public fund ‘art’ and the “arts” at all?

    When I am PM the second thing I will do is stop all funding for the “arts”

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  11. Pete George (23,591 comments) says:

    A National Art Gallery in Wellington would be used more than a rail loop in Auckland, the money wouldn’t have to travel so far (Beehive to waterfront), and money flow doesn’t require digging up the city.

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  12. Manolo (13,837 comments) says:

    I trust the first thing would be ditching the Treaty of Waitangi once and for all. About time the gravy train stops.
    BB for PM! :-)

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  13. davidp (3,581 comments) says:

    gazzmaniac>Why should it be housed in a $100M building? What’s wrong with building a cheaper one that’s not an archtect’s wet dream, or even (heaven forbid!) renting or buying a second hand one?

    I visited the Salvador Dali Museum in St Petersburg, Florida, many years ago. It housed what had been a private collection of Dali works in a converted marine warehouse. They’re in the process of building a new purpose-built museum at the moment, but the warehouse has done the job for almost 30 years.

    Cool place too. I like single-artist galleries more than those that are just a collection of miscellaneous “stuff”.

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  14. Lance (2,662 comments) says:

    But think of it, all the arty people and art critics will be pleased with National and vote for them…
    Oh wait….

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  15. stephen (4,063 comments) says:

    Is everyone ignoring the line on “private benefactors” because they’re so sceptical?

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  16. KevinH (1,229 comments) says:

    Auckland is in the process of upgrading and extending it’s gallery to international standards and could handle a large quantity of works currently stored in Wellington.
    In a small country such as New Zealand it is wiser to share resources within the even smaller community involved rather than play the political game.

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  17. gazzmaniac (2,307 comments) says:

    We could reduce the number of MPs to 60 then use the beehive.
    Seriously though, if the government ever actually reduces the size of the state sector then there will be a good chunk of downtown Wellington that could be used.

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  18. John Gibson (295 comments) says:

    Move the collection to Auckland housing it in a new gallery to be built above one of the underground rail stations.

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  19. BlairM (2,341 comments) says:

    Te Papa is a national embarassment. It is a plastic piece of shit. What is the point of having a National Museum when the Treaty of Waitangi is not even housed there. I remember being in Wellington once and wanting to see it, but Archives NZ (where it is kept) is CLOSED AT WEEKENDS!!! Ridiculous!

    It’s all very well to have all the interactive bullshit in there for the kiddies, but there should also be some real artifacts from New Zealand’s history – not the plastic replicas they have there now. And let’s get the art up there – in the existing museum. If you want a fun park, go to Rainbow’s End.

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  20. adze (2,126 comments) says:

    As a Wellingtonian, I wouldn’t have a problem with the artworks going to Auckland, especially if they’re building a swanky new art gallery. It seems bizarre to me that an enormous building like Te Papa doesn’t display more of them as it is. Too bad if it’s not big enough.

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  21. backster (2,174 comments) says:

    Maybe they could convert the little used new Supreme Court or even the spare rooms in the opulently modified Government House the legacies of the Clark regime. Alternatively they could sell off half the collection if more are needed that woman could draw a few Picassos.

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  22. BeaB (2,125 comments) says:

    If Parkin wants to leave us with a national art gallery then let him pay for it. The collection is mainly, I hate to say it, second and third rate stuff anyway.
    I like the Australian practice of putting national galleries in cities other than the capital. I am sure Christchurch or Auckland could find the space – or even Hamilton which is always totally neglected despite its large population and proximity to an even larger one in Auckland.

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  23. davidp (3,581 comments) says:

    Beab> I am sure Christchurch or Auckland could find the space

    Christchurch have a few vacant plots of land at the moment. Building a significant building there might be a nice alternative to development of yet another anonymous office block.

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  24. kowtow (8,522 comments) says:

    oh dear Blair M you are such a stuffy shirt,haven’t you heard museums aren’t for displaying historical artefacts any more ,they are an “experience”.

    That’s why Te Crapa can happily insult a good proportion of this country’s citizens with an object of “art” called virgin in a condom.

    But would they have displayed Vaginal Vishnu or Bolloxy Buddha or Manky Mohamed? Don’t think so.

    As to spending up big in this environment ,these arseholes just don’t get it do they?

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  25. RRM (9,933 comments) says:

    Perhaps they could reconfigure the existing space already available in Te Papa to greater effect? Get rid of some of the condescending, dumbed-down kiddie rides and give the National Museum a bit of the gravitas it deserves.

    I am thinking in particular of dumping the piece of tread plate floor where children jump up and down as hard as they possibly can to supposedly “simulate” an earthquake, and the corrugated-iron Holden.

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  26. Lance (2,662 comments) says:

    adze wrote
    “As a Wellingtonian, I wouldn’t have a problem with the artworks going to Auckland”

    I know, lets have a vote on it

    Bruu hu hu ha ha ha… the evil supercity conquers all

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  27. adze (2,126 comments) says:

    Lance
    I wouldn’t rely too much on Auckland voter turnout, based on recent examples :P

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  28. Sam Buchanan (501 comments) says:

    If there’s gazillions of art works Te Papa can’t display, why not get them out of storage and circulate them around smaller galleries around the country? Lots more people can get to see them, and we save a hundred million on a new building.

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  29. big bruv (13,929 comments) says:

    If there’s gazillions of art works at Te Papa why not sell the lot of them and use the money to pay down some bloody debt.

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  30. tvb (4,430 comments) says:

    Do NOT put this is Wellington. It should be Auckland where about half the Country are a drive away. Wellington is is a small centre at the bottom end of the North Island.

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  31. Lance (2,662 comments) says:

    Having lived for 8 years in Wellington I can confirm…. it is unworthy :-p

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  32. stephen (4,063 comments) says:

    Great idea Sam. The Auckland Art Gallery has just over a thousand pieces through the private Chartwell Trust (http://www.chartwell.org.nz/About/AboutChartwell.aspx)- I venture they aren’t displaying many either!

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  33. noodle (151 comments) says:

    All I remember from my one trip around Te Papa is the rotting squid and getting lost wandering about in all the architecture. Ah, and all the bored shitless school kids being head-counted by exhausted teachers.
    It’s not what I would call a museum. Would the art gallery be any better?

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  34. gazzmaniac (2,307 comments) says:

    If there’s already so much art on display why does the state even need to consider another gallery? The private sector seems to be doing a good job already.
    Also, couldn’t the government rent out some of the pieces to people and organisations who want them on the wall in their office? That way they’d be seen and they’d make money.

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  35. Manolo (13,837 comments) says:

    “If there’s gazillions of art works at Te Papa why not sell the lot of them and use the money to pay down some bloody debt.”

    Exactly what giants like Vermeer, Degas, Mozart, and Beethoven were doing for years to keep them afloat and to meet their living expenses. Those geniuses sold masterpieces.

    On the other hand, Te Papa’s (aka the amusement park) rooms are full of fifth-tier crap and overpriced primitive artifacts.

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  36. Viking2 (11,488 comments) says:

    Here’s an idea. NZ’s biggest art collector is Fletcher ‘s. Now Fletchers have no major new work projects in NZ next year so perhaps their Chair, who I think s Sir Rodderick Dean, woud like to make an National contribution of some significance before he retires from his otherwise wrecking career and contribute a National Art Gallery. He can arrange the funding and all else and we will happily lend him the artwork for a small fee.
    We will even Name the place after him. Roderick Deam’s Mausalem.
    A Place for the Living Dead.

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  37. adze (2,126 comments) says:

    “We will even Name the place after him. Roderick Deam’s Mausalem.
    A Place for the Living Dead.”

    Precious blood…

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  38. RightNow (6,994 comments) says:

    “Visitors
    Te Papa reported that it had 1,563,295 visitors in 2008/09 and 2,559,373 visits to its
    website, considerably more than in the previous year. However, we are concerned that
    visitor figures did not closely mirror the demographic profile of New Zealand. Only 2
    percent of visitors were Pacific Islanders, who make up 5 percent of the population, and 6
    percent were Asian (9 percent of the population). Of the Asian visitors in 2008/09 it is
    estimated that 20,098 were from Asian countries and that 60,379 were Asian New Zealand
    visitors. We would like to see more exhibitions travelling throughout the country to address
    this demographic imbalance. In particular we would like more exhibitions to visit
    Auckland

    http://www.parliament.nz/NR/rdonlyres/DF2F3DD4-ED45-4084-9B2F-A81CA3111B36/131667/DBSCH_SCR_4654_200809financialreviewoftheMuseumofN.pdf

    It doesn’t need to be in Auckland, they can just send some exhibitions up to visit you ;)

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  39. RightNow (6,994 comments) says:

    I also fail to see the merit of spending $100 million on an art gallery, when the primary requirement is big white walls and spotlights. Seriously, I could build the thing myself in an unused warehouse over a couple of weekends for half the price (and a slab of Tui)

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  40. Johnboy (16,651 comments) says:

    “It doesn’t need to be in Auckland, they can just send some exhibitions up to visit you ;)”

    I thought we sent Rodders and Chrissie up to visit the Auklanders on a regular basis.

    Isn’t that what their free airfares are meant for?

    Oh shit! Sorry I forgot. :)

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  41. lilman (960 comments) says:

    Why?,what for? ,because it is racist to have a museum that shows basically only one culture!
    I bet the better part of the cost of the musem that the vast amount of the stored artifacts that are in the collection have a collonial bassis.
    If Im wrong,well then………
    Bet Im not though.

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  42. Johnboy (16,651 comments) says:

    “collonial bassis.”

    That sounds like something nasty you get from eating too much bacon and red meat. :)

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  43. Jack5 (5,137 comments) says:

    Museums and art galleries were once important in education.

    Attendance has dropped, so they veer towards becoming more entertainment than educational, but in today’s computer age you have to wonder who needs them?

    What about spending the money on a great web portal of NZ art? A thousandth the price, ten thousand times as comprehensive, open round the clock, free.

    Time to move on from Disneyland museums and art galleries like Te Papa, and into the internet age.

    Fairer, too, for the 92 per cent (at least) of New Zealanders who live outside Wellington.

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  44. Johnboy (16,651 comments) says:

    But how would the arty, crafty, poseur, patrons of the arts pose Jack5?

    I mean dahlings the internet is so so common after all.

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  45. Caleb (479 comments) says:

    same deal in hawkes bay… a new $15million gallery for napier.

    on the ratepayer.

    no prob with getting the funding….

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  46. pq (728 comments) says:

    te papa is a waste of space , there is no art there at all, get rid of the whole thing, its sad, stupid and full of pretentious garbage.

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