Christchurch Art Gallery

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Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu
Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu.jpg
Gallery exterior
General information
Coordinates43°31′50″S 172°37′52″E / 43.53056°S 172.63111°E / -43.53056; 172.63111Coordinates: 43°31′50″S 172°37′52″E / 43.53056°S 172.63111°E / -43.53056; 172.63111
Inaugurated11 May 2003
OwnerChristchurch City Council
Design and construction
Architecture firmBuchan Group

The Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu, commonly known as the Christchurch Art Gallery, is the public art gallery of the city of Christchurch, New Zealand. It is funded by Christchurch City Council. It has its own substantial art collection and presents a programme of New Zealand and international exhibitions. The gallery opened on 11 May 2003,[1] replacing the city's former public art gallery, the Robert McDougall Art Gallery, which opened on 16 June 1932 and closed on 16 June 2002.[2]

Night time photo of the Montreal Street frontage

The Māori elements of the name are explained as follows: Te Puna honours waipuna, the artesian spring beneath the gallery and Waiwhetu refers to one of the tributaries in the immediate vicinity, which flows into the River Avon. Waiwhetu may also be translated as ‘water in which stars are reflected’.

The Building[edit]

Reasons for voyaging on the gallery's forecourt

Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu was designed by the Buchan Group. The gallery's forecourt has a large sculpture, Reason for Voyaging, which was the result of a collaboration between the sculptor Graham Bennett and the architect David Cole.[3]

The building was used as Civil Defence headquarters for Christchurch following the 2010 Canterbury earthquake, and again after the February 2011 Christchurch earthquake. The gallery was designed to deal with seismic events. The gallery's foundation, a concrete raft slab that sits on the surface of the ground, evenly distributes earthquake forces. However, it sustained some damage in the 2011 earthquake.[4] The gallery building was used as a Civil Defence headquarters for seven months after the 2011 Christchurch earthquake, and did not reopen until 19 December 2015 due to the need for extensive refurbishments and improvements.[5]


Although the predecessor to the current Christchurch Art Gallery was opened in 1932, William Baverstock was the first paid director, appointed in 1960 (he had previously served as honorary curator from 1949).[6]

  • 1960–1969: William Baverstock (1893–1975)
  • 1969–1979: Brian Muir (1943–1989)
  • 1979–1981: T. L. Rodney Wilson (1945–2013)
  • 1981–1995: John Coley
  • 1995–2006: Tony Preston
  • 2006–2018: Jenny Harper (b. 1950)[7]
  • 2018–present : Blair Jackson[8]


  1. ^ "Grand opening for gallery of wonders". Christchurch Star. 14 May 2003. pp. A4–A5.
  2. ^ "The Robert McDougall Art Gallery: a profile of the Art Gallery of the City of Christchurch, 1932-1982". Christchurch City Council. 1982.
  3. ^ "The Building". Christchurch Art Gallery. Retrieved 17 May 2011.
  4. ^ Mortimer, Frances (12 October 2014) "Not Broken, But Slightly Bowed—Lifting a Landmark Art Gallery in New Zealand" American Surveyor Magazine Frederick, Maryland
  5. ^ Gates, Charlie (19 December 2015). "Christchurch Art Gallery reopening after nearly 5 years of closure". The Press. Retrieved 3 January 2016.
  6. ^ "History". Christchurch Art Gallery. Retrieved 4 January 2016.
  7. ^ Small, Jamie (30 September 2017). "Christchurch Art Gallery director Jenny Harper resigns". Stuff.
  8. ^ "New Christchurch Art Gallery director wants to 'build new audiences'". Christchurch Press. Retrieved 1 April 2018.

External links[edit]