Toi Art – New Zealand’s new national art gallery opens

Toi Art – New Zealand’s spectacular new art gallery – will open in Wellington on Friday (16.3.18)

Toi Art, New Zealand’s spectacular new art gallery, will be officially opened by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, in Wellington, on Friday, 16 March. 

The new NZ$8.4 million gallery spans two levels of Te Papa – New Zealand’s national museum which sits on the Wellington waterfront – and is part of a major renewal of all the museum’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. 

As a new home for New Zealand art, Toi Art will showcase iconic works from the national art collection, alongside new art created especially for this space. 

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 ‘ gallery has 35% more floor space for art in the national museum, with flexible gallery spaces to show large-scale and immersive new works. 

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. 
  • Tūrangawaewae: 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. 

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 numbers:

  • 3,980m2 floor area on 2 levels
  • NZ$8.4 million investment
  • 5 new exhibitions
  • 40,000 artworks including 10 new artworks created for the opening 
  • 40 new acquisitions to the national art collection
  • 150,000 photographs
  • 1.5 million visitors annually to Te Papa
  • 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