Robert McDougall Art Gallery

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Robert McDougall Art Gallery
Robert McDougall Art Gallery front 2.jpg
Robert McDougall Art Gallery (2018)
General information
Architectural styleNeo-classical
LocationChristchurch Botanic Gardens
Address9 Rolleston Avenue
Town or cityChristchurch
CountryNew Zealand
Coordinates43°31′51″S 172°37′34″E / 43.530799°S 172.626151°E / -43.530799; 172.626151Coordinates: 43°31′51″S 172°37′34″E / 43.530799°S 172.626151°E / -43.530799; 172.626151
Current tenantsCanterbury Museum
LandlordChristchurch City Council
Design and construction
ArchitectEdward Armstrong
Designated2 April 1985
Reference no.303

The Robert McDougall Art Gallery is a heritage building in Christchurch, New Zealand. It was designed by Edward Armstrong and it opened in 1932. It is a Category I heritage building listed with Heritage New Zealand and is located within the Christchurch Botanic Gardens.


The Robert McDougall Art Gallery behind the Peacock Fountain in 1935 (one of the Peacock fountain's former locations)

In 1925 James Jamieson, a wealthy local building contractor, pledged to leave his art collection to Christchurch City on the condition that a new premises were built to house it. The Christchurch City Council held a referendum to gauge public support for taking out a loan to pay for the new gallery. This idea was rejected and nothing happened until 1928 when Robert McDougall donated £25,000 for the gallery to be built.[1] A competition was set up to find an agreeable design. The selection committee, which included Robert McDougall, choose Edward Armstrong's design.[2] The site in the botanic gardens behind the Canterbury Museum was chosen. Building of the new gallery commenced in November 1930 and by April 1932 it was near completion when funds ran low. Robert McDougall supplemented his original gift enabling the completion of the gallery at a total cost of £31,000.[2] In total the new gallery housed 160 works, the majority of which came from two collections, the Canterbury Society of Arts and James Jamieson's collection. By 1961 the McDougall's collection had grown to 325 works, and by 2001 it was over 5,000 items. The collection outgrew the Robert McDougall Gallery and the Christchurch Art Gallery was built to house the collection in 2002. The Robert McDougall Gallery was largely empty from the opening of the new art gallery until it was closed permanently after the September 2010 earthquake.[3] The building survived the Christchurch earthquakes and had some repairs in 2016.[4] It is awaiting more strengthening work to protect it against future earthquakes and it still remains empty.[3]


The single story gallery has a large central hall, with scagliola columns and marble floors. It is constructed of brick and concrete, and faced with Oamaru stone. Armstrong was inspired by the Sarjeant Gallery in Whanganui. Both the Sarjeant Gallery and the Robert McDougall Gallery use Samuel Hurst Seager's idea of 'topside lighting'. This is where skylights allow natural light to fall onto the displayed pictures without the light falling onto the visitors or the floors.[2][1]


  1. ^ a b "Robert McDougall Art Gallery". Register of Historic Places. Heritage New Zealand. Retrieved 13 January 2020.
  2. ^ a b c Roberts, Neil (1982). Robert Mcdougall Art Gallery: a profile of the Art Gallery of the City of Christchurch 1932–1982 (PDF). Christchurch: Griffin Press Ltd.
  3. ^ a b Harris, Dominic (30 April 2019). "Canterbury Museum calls for extra $12m to make former art gallery quake-proof". Stuff. Retrieved 13 January 2020.
  4. ^ Small, Jamie (9 November 2016). "Repairs to Christchurch's Robert McDougall Art Gallery work under way". Stuff. Retrieved 13 January 2020.