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Te Papa's new art gallery a game changer for art in NZ

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

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.

"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 it 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: Megan Tamati-Quennell curates Détour - a seminal new installation that challenges art conventions.

Pacific Sisters: Fashion Activists - a celebration of mana wāhine, indigenous identities, and the role this collective has played over the past 26 years in giving voice and visibility to Māori and Pacific peoples in Aotearoa New Zealand. 17 March - 8 July 2018. Lisa Walker: I want to go to my bedroom but I can’t be bothered - the 30-year evolution of world-renowned New Zealand jeweller Lisa Walker. 17 March - 22 July 2018. Kaleidoscope: Abstract Aotearoa - an exploration of colour, shape and pattern in New Zealand and the Pacific, featuring a new immersive art work by Tiffany Singh. TÅ«rangawaewae: Art and New Zealand - through Te Papa’s extensive collection of New Zealand painting, sculpture, and photography, explore questions of art, identity, and cross-cultural exchange. 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.

Toi Art: By the numbers

2 levels of art

5 new exhibitions

10 new artworks made for the opening $8.4 millioninvestment in the new art gallery

3,980m2 floor area of Toi Art

35% more space for art

40,000 artworks in the national art collection

74 kmwall length needed to display entire national art collection (direct flight from Wellington to Blenheim)

150,000 photographs in Te Papa’s collection

40 new acquisitions to the national art collection

45 natural materials in Tiffany Singh’s new work Indra’s bow - including dried plums, rosebuds, dragon’s blood and blue peas

1.5 million visitors to Te Papa per year

16,000 hours works by builders on the new gallery

38,000 nails used to build Toi Art

142,290 screws 30 tonnes steel 20 km timber

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