New Zealand’s newest art gallery, Toi Art, has been officially opened by the country’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa in Wellington.
Spanning two levels of the museum, the new art gallery is part of a major renewal of all Te Papa’s exhibition spaces which underwent an NZD$8.4 million investment including a grant from the Lottery Environment and Heritage Fund.
The gallery will be free to enter when it opens to the public at 10am on Saturday 17 March, with leading contemporary artist Michael Parekowhai taking on the first space.
“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,” Prime Minister Jacinda Arden says.
In addition to a range of art exhibitions, the gallery will offer interactive art activities for children, and immersive experiences such as a virtual reality visit to an artist’s studio.
“Art is a vital part of our lives and it is fantastic that as a free, family-friendly experience, the new gallery will make it more accessible to more people.”
The new gallery 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.
“Toi Art is a game changer for art in New Zealand,” Te Papa head of art Charlotte Davy says.
“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.”
The gallery, designed by Warren and Mahoney Architects, has 35 per cent more floor space for art in the national museum, with flexible gallery spaces to show large-scale and immersive new works.
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 opening weekend (17 – 18 March) will welcome the public 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.
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.