Art Gallery
Whare Toi


Art Gallery reopens.

One of the most common requests made to Te Manawa is a desire to see more of the public art collection on display, and with an earlier reopening on the calendar, the Art Gallery building is being prepared with exactly that in mind.

The renewal project, which saw Te Manawa unveil plans to make some significant upgrades, has now been scaled back in response to public feedback wanting the Gallery building open sooner. While this means much of the improvements Te Manawa wanted to make have had to be cut, the break in the schedule of exhibitions has allowed the team to devise an exhibition that showcases the art collection like never before.

Explore the collection like never before.

Along with composition and media, artists explore scale when realising their ideas.

This selection of large artworks from the collection spans sculpture, ceramics, assemblage, photography, painting, stitched and drawn works. From the global vision of John Bevan Ford to the mournful detail of Fiona Pardington’s photograph, the artists here seek to confront, reveal and immerse you in their creative world through scale.

Artworks of this size present a unique challenge to conservators. They demand a lot of storage space, and the processes of caring for them are complicated by dimensions that stretch beyond the reach of an arm.


Te Manawa stores part of its collections on 24 floor-to-ceiling racks.

The racks hold objects that range from wall-mounted sculptures and paintings to photographs, and even items from the social history collection.

They’re not organised by artist, value or type – all that matters is the best use of space! Because we’re exhibiting them as they’re stored, this can create some interesting juxtapositions as unusual combinations of artworks end up hanging side by side – on the rack democracy rules.

Every season Te Manawa will change the works in this gallery, so return often enough and you’ll get to see all 24 racks.


Many items in the art collections are works on paper. We’re in the process of photographing every single piece.

Unlike framed paintings or sculpture, works on paper are often small and fragile, and present their own storage challenges. High resolution photographs allow easy access to these parts of the collection.

The screens to your left show the objects photographed so far and the cases behind you contain some of the original artworks.

Through the portal you will be immersed in a digital installation developed with artist David Lupton. In the future images from this project will be available on our website.


These works from the collection by women photographers celebrate the 125th anniversary of women’s suffrage.

From the groundbreaking exhibition The Active Eye in (1975) to the more recent survey Now and Then (2012), Te Manawa has a rich history of collecting and exhibiting artworks in the photographic medium.

Of the 97 photographers represented in our collections 22 are women. The five most recent photographic acquisitions include three by women artists.


Are all the original repairs still happening?

No not any more. We are disappointed not to be undertaking the full work we believe the building deserves. Essential works are being carried out, however any non-essential works will be carried out as part of the TM2025 redevelopment

Was the change made in response to public concern about the length of closure?

Yes. We understand the public concern to having a much-loved facility closed for a significant period. Working with PNCC, we established a small team to quickly reassess and re-scope the work with a focus on having all essential work carried out at the same time rather than staggered.

Is the asbestos being removed? If not why?

No. Enhancements to the ventilation and CCTV were identified as part the non-essential scope of works and required fixings into the asbestos ceiling.  As this work is no longer being carried out, and is not accessible, in line with WorkSafe Asbestos Guidelines, the asbestos removal is deferred and will be carried out as part of the TM2025 redevelopment.

PNCC assessors have indicated the risk of asbestos exposure is negligible. The asbestos is inaccessible and fully contained, stable and unlikely to be damaged.

What has happened to make the length of closure shorter?

The work has been re-scoped with a pragmatic approach looking at the essential work that is necessary to be carried out.

Why did the whole gallery need to be closed?

Storage and preservation of artworks is very important. The Art Gallery building is a temperature-controlled environment, and works have to be protected from dust, damage and the elements. It is not possible to undertake a renewal project of this size and scope while exhibitions are on display. Nor would it be safe for the public.

How committed is Te Manawa to the ongoing display of art?

Very. In fact our ability to engage entire communities in conversations around art and artistic practice is a role we take very seriously. Not only do we want to have more of the public collection on display, we want to showcase it in the very best, most professional setting possible. In addition, arrangements had been made to display artworks from the Te Manawa collection in the Museum for the duration of the Art Gallery renewal.

Was the Art Gallery being closed in preparation for demolition in the 2025 project?

Absolutely not. The closure was to allow necessary works to be undertaken.