Located in Wellington, New Zealand, the City Gallery Wellington is an art gallery and educational space dedicated to showcasing emerging contemporary works and artists from the Australasian region and beyond. The City Gallery Wellington was originally opened to the public in 1980. In 1993, it moved into its current location in the old Wellington Public Library building.
In 2009, the gallery was closed for a year for major facility renovations. It reopened in September of that year with a new auditorium and three new galleries spaces, one of which was dedicated to Maori and Pacific art. Today, the City Gallery Wellington is now owned and operated by the Wellington Museums Trust and receives public government funding from the Ministry of Education.
Gallery Exhibits and Programming
Due to the Gallery’s mission to raise the voices of emerging contemporary artists throughout the Australasian region, the facility does not present a permanent collection of artworks. Instead, a variety of rotating exhibits and changing works are presented, created by artistic groups and individual artisans. Three rooms of gallery space are showcased at the facility, with two or three exhibitions on display at any given time throughout the year. Exhibitions are rotated periodically to showcase new and important works by local and regional artists. The Gallery works closely with a variety of local artists, collectors, arts facilities, and local and international arts organizations to bring timely exhibitions and events to the Wellington community.
Group exhibitions on display at the Gallery have included multidisciplinary works in the fields of digital art, sculpture, photography, painting, and mixed media. While the Gallery has showcased works from well-known international artists such as Frida Kahlo and Keith Haring, the majority of its exhibitions feature a strong local focus.Past exhibitions have frequently highlighted the works of indigenous Maori artists, including the 2001 Techno Maori exhibition, which challenged traditional expectations of indigenous art. Additionally, the Gallery’s Michael Hirschfeld Gallery is dedicated to presenting the works of Wellington-based artists.
The City Gallery Wellington also features a large Gallery Shop which allows purchase of works by featured artists, along with books, housewares, children’s gifts, jewelry, and other locally-crafted items. Proceeds from the shop’s sales benefit the Gallery’s future exhibitions and educational programming. The Gallery’s Nikau Cafe is open to the public and serves breakfast, lunch, and brunch. An upstairs Reading Roomallows visitors of all ages to explore a curated selection of books. The room is also home to the Art Cart, which stocks a variety of interactive activities for children.
The facade of the gallery is a large-scale permanent artwork by Bill Culbert and Ralph Hotere. The piece, entitled Fault, features darkened windows and large fluorescent tubes, dividing the windows. The piece’s name is a reference to Wellington’s location along an earthquake fault line, with themes intended to speak to the relationship between the area’s indigenous Maori people and Pakeha European natives. The work has been constantly displayed and running since 1994, with the exception of times of exhibit construction and renovation.Fault is part of a collection of sculptures in the Wellington Civic Square, which was commissioned in 1991 and includes the city’s council building, public library, and town hall facility.
Over a dozen sculptures made from various sizes and materials, including Fault, can be viewed within the square, representing multiple viewpoints and styles. A large overhanging globe sculpture, Ferns, constructed in 1998, serves as a focal point, constructed of gold on its inside and silver plates on its outside.City to Sea Bridge was constructed in 1994 and is a visual telling of the Maori legend of Wellington Harbour’s creation, while Steps to Heaven is a seven-step word ladder constructed in 2000 that progresses from sea to sky with one letter changing on each step. The Nikau sculptures are a series of 15 metal nikau palm trees. Nine of the trees function as structural support for the library building, while six are freestanding and spread throughout the Civic Square area. While the sculptures are not formally part of the Gallery, information for a self-guided walking tour is available at the Gallery’s front desk.
The City Gallery Wellington offers gallery and sculpture tours for student groups, as well as a variety of workshops that can be tailored depending on curriculum requirements and grade level. Tours are also available for adult groups, allowing for in-depth exploration of current exhibitions. During school holiday time periods, Craftcamp programs are offered for students and families. Once a month, the Gallery hosts gallery time and morning tea for infants and their caregivers.
101 Wakefield St, Wellington, 6011, New Zealand, Phone: +64-49-13-90-32
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