A national art gallery

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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