Mixed reaction to new gallery at Te Papa

Mixed reaction to new gallery at Te Papa

Te Papa`s new Toi Art gallery is the biggest change at the museum since opening 20 years ago. PHOTO: Luisa Girao

Visitors to the new Toi Art gallery at Te Papa had mixed opinions when it opened last weekend.

Te Papa head of art Charlotte Davy described the gallery  as a `game changer` for art in the country and $8.4 million has been invested in it.

“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,” said Davy.

While the space, which holds Michael Parekowhai `Détour` installation is one of the best parts for Davy, it didn’t please visitor Lesley Mowys.

“It`s so much information, you don`t know where to look. Taste for art is particular but I didn`t understand the proposal,” Mowys said.

Peter Mowys believes Toi Art gallery could be better PHOTO: LUISA GIRAO

Her husband Peter also was expecting more. “We came here all the time and we have the feeling that they tried hard but could done better. It seems very patronised. It could have more a Kiwi face,” Peter said.

Russian lawyer Aleksander Lebuzov loved the exposition but had the feeling something was missing.

“It`s my first day here in NZ and I was curious to come to Te Papa because is worldwide famous. I`m very satisfied with everything but I though the new exposition has few pieces for a lot of  space,” said Lebuzov.

Equivalent to 15 tennis courts in size, the new gallery spans two levels of the building.

But while some of the visitors have critics about Toi Art, others praised the new exhibition. It is the biggest change in the museum since opening 20 years ago.

School teacher Shelly McCarty took her three-year-old son Arthur to enjoy the gallery.

“He loves art and loved the exposition, especially the interactive part. It`s funny because he is so young. He asked to come yesterday, but it was closed,” said McCarty.

She also highlighted the importance of Toi Art for women, especially the Pacific Sisters: Fashion Activism collection.

“Usually the museums don’t give space for female artists from the Pacific and now they have a place. I think that is inspiring for a lot of young girls.”

Richard Tuck and Raven Maidin were happy with everything. “We really enjoyed. The gallery has a big diversity and range. I`m proud of our art”, said Raven.

The Toi Art gallery is free and includes five exhibitions:  Pacific Sisters: Fashion Activists collection which pays homage to New Zealand’s Pacific Island connections and its female artists; a retrospective collection of jeweller Lisa Walker; two exhibitions showcasing the national art collection; and a large contemporary installation called Détour from Michael Parekowhai.

For more information, check Toi Art website: https://www.tepapa.govt.nz/visit/exhibitions/toi-art

Arthur and Charlotte Davy loved the new gallery: PHOTO: LUISA GIRAO

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Article by Luisa Girao

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