Auckland Art Gallery
The Auckland Art Gallery is the principal public gallery in Auckland, New Zealand and has the most extensive collection of national and international art in New Zealand. It frequently hosts travelling international exhibitions. Set below the hilltop Albert Park in the central-city area of Auckland, the gallery was established in 1888 as the first permanent art gallery in New Zealand. The New Gallery, across the road from the main gallery, shows contemporary art. It is located in the former Auckland Telephone Exchange Building which was converted in 1995 into a rather daring fusion of Edwardian and contemporary architecture. Throughout the 1870s many people in Auckland felt the city needed a municipal facility but the newly established Auckland City Council was unwilling to commit funds to such a project. Following pressure by such eminent people as Sir Maurice O'Rouke and others, the building of a combined Art Gallery & Library was made necessary by the promise of significant bequests from two major benefactors; former colonial governor Sir George Grey, and James Tannock Mackelvie. Grey had promised books for a municipal library as early as 1872 and eventually donated large numbers of manuscripts, rare books and paintings from his collection to the Auckland Gallery & Library . He also gave material to Capetown, where he had also been governor. The Grey bequest includes works by Caspar Netscher, Henry Fuseli, William Blake and David Wilkie. Mackelvie was a businessman who had retained an interest in Auckland affairs after returning to Britain. In the early 1880s he announced a gift of 105 framed watercolours, oil paintings, and a collection of ink & pencil drawings. His gift eventually amounted to 140 items including paintings, decorative arts, ceramics and furniture from his London residence, these form the core of the Mackelvie Trust Collection which is shared between the Auckland City Art Gallery, the Public Library and the Auckland Museum. Mackelvie's will stipulated a separate gallery to display his bequest, this was not popular with the Council but a special room was dedicated to the collection in 1893 and eventually the top lit Mackelvie Gallery was built in 1916. The Mackelvie Trust continues to purchase art works to add to its collection which now includes significant 20th century bronzes by Archipenko, Bourdelle, Epstein, Moore and Elisabeth Frink. The Auckland Gallery collection was initially dominated by European old master paintings following the standard taste of the 19th century. Today the collection has expanded to include a wider variety of periods, styles and media. Many New Zealand and Pacific artists are represented, as well as Europeand material from the Middle Ages to the present day. Notable New Zealand artists with extensive representation include Gretchen Albrecht, Marti Friedlander, C.F. Goldie, Alfred Henry O'Keeffe, Frances Hodgkins, Gottfried Lindauer and Colin McCahon. Some of these works were donated by the artists themselves. In 1915 a collection of paintings of Mäori by Gottfried Lindauer was donated to the Gallery by Henry Partridge, an Auckland businessman. He made the gift on the proviso that the people of Auckland raise 10,000 pounds for the Belgium Relief Fund. The money was raised within a few weeks. Another major benefactor was Lucy Carrington Wertheim. Miss Wertheim was an Art Gallery owner in London and through her support of expatriate artist Frances Hodgkins bestowed on the Auckland Art Gallery a representative collection of British paintings from the interwar period. Her gifts in 1948 and 1950 totalled 154 works by modern British artists including Christopher Wood, Frances Hodgkins, Phelan Gibb, R.O Dunlop & Alfred Wallis. The Wertheim collection was initially displayed in a separate room opened by the Mayor J.A.C Allum on December 2, 1948. In 1953 Rex Nan Kivell donated an important collection of prints including work by George French Angas, Sydney Parkinson, Nicholas Chevalier, and Augustus Earle. The 1960s saw the arrival of the Watson Bequest, a collection of European medieval art. In 1967 the Spencer collection of early English and New Zealand Water colours was donated, this included early New Zealand views by John Gully, John Hoyt, and John Kinder. In 1982 on the death of Dr Walter Auburn, print collector and valued adviser to the Gallery's prints and drawings department, the Mackelvie Trust received his magnificent collection of over one and a half thousand prints including work by Callot, Piranesi, della Bella and Hollar. In 1952 Eric Westbrook was appointed as the first full-time director of the Art Gallery He was succeeded in 1955 by Peter Tomory who stayed until 1965. Both men sought to revitalise the Gallery and introduce modern art to a largely conservative public in the face of resistance from a largely hostile City Council. The 1956 Spring Exhibition 'Object and Image' showed works by modern artists such as John Weeks, Louise Henderson, Milan Mrkusich, Colin McCahon, Kase Jackson & Ross Fraser. Other controversial exhibitions including Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth resulted in serious confrontation between the Council and Tomory resulting in his resignation. Tomory's intended purchase of Hepworth's Torso II in 1963 changed the climate of art and culture in New Zealand. Even the conservative NZ Herald pointed out to its readers "it is no function of an Art Gallery to be stuffed with exhibits which everyone can comprehend". The Bronze statue was privately bought by local businessman George Wooler and anonymously donated to the Gallery.

The main gallery building was originally designed by Melbourne architects Grainger & Charles D'Ebro to house not only the Art gallery but also the City Council Offices, Lecture Theatre and Public Library. It is constructed of brick and plaster in an early French Renaissance style and was completed in 1887, with an extension built in 1916. It is three storeys high, with an attic in the steep pitched roofs, and a six storey clock tower. The new building eventually proved too small to house all the Council departments and overflow space in the Customs House in Customs Street was found to be necessary. Following the completion of the Auckland Town Hall in 1911 all Council departments left the Gallery building allowing expansion of Gallery facilities including extra workshop space for art classes. Several artists maintained studio space in the complex during the period just after the war; the weaver Ilse Von Randow utilised the clock tower rooms and created onsite the Art Gallery Ceremonial curtains, executed as part of the 1950s modernisation. In 1969 the art classes and studios were relocated to Ponsonby where a decommissioned Police Station by John Campbell at 1 Ponsonby Road was relaunched as 'Artstation' which continues the gallery outreach programmes. From 1969 to 1971 the building underwent remodelling and a new wing and sculpture garden were added. This was the result of the lavish Philip Edmiston bequest which had been announced in 1946, which had stipulated the building of a new gallery. In 1971 the Public library was moved to the new Auckland Public Library building by Ewen Wainscott in nearby Lorne Street. In the late 2000s, a major extension was mooted, which caused substantial criticism from some quarters due to its cost, design and the fact that land from Albert Park would be required for the extension. In 2008, Council decided to go ahead with the extension, which is to be finished in 2011 for a total of NZ$113 million, of which Auckland City Council is contributing just under NZ$50 million. The expansion will increase exhibition space by 50%, for up to 900 artworks, and provide dedicated education, child and family spaces. As part of the upgrade, existing parts of the structure will also be renovated and restored to its 1916 state - amongst other things ensuring that the 17 different floor levels in the building will be reduced to just 6. One of the sealed entrances to the Albert Park tunnels can be found behind the Art Gallery on Wellesley Street.