Te Whare o Rehua Sarjeant Gallery Opening 9 November 2024
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Te Whare o Rehua Sarjeant Gallery Opening 9 November 2024

Te Whare o Rehua Sarjeant Gallery Opening 9 November 2024

Your Inspiration Awaits:
Te Whare o Rehua Sarjeant Gallery
Reveals Opening Date – Saturday, 9 November 2024

Te Whare o Rehua Sarjeant Gallery announced today that it will open to the public on Saturday 9 November 2024. The newly reimagined art gallery, designed by Warren and Mahoney, is set to be one of the most significant new cultural openings in Aotearoa New Zealand this year.

The new $70 million gallery now spans more than 4,500 sqm and is part of an incredible renewal of Te Whare o Rehua Sarjeant Gallery at Pukenamu Queen’s Park in the centre of Whanganui. One of New Zealand’s oldest purpose-built galleries, it first opened in 1919 and houses a nationally significant collection of over 9000 items. It is the largest collection held in a public gallery outside of the main centres in New Zealand.

Andrew Tripe, Mayor of Whanganui, said “I often talk about Whanganui’s three points of difference – those attributes which can’t be replicated and give us our uniqueness, our identity. These are our arts, our heritage and the Awa. Te Whare o Rehua Sarjeant Gallery is one of a handful of significant Whanganui landmarks that embodies all of these qualities.

“Following the redevelopment, the gallery now has an enhanced role and influence, standing proudly as the cultural heart of our unique community and drawing visitors from around New Zealand and the world. As Whanganui is now a designated UNESCO City of Design, it’s exciting to envision how Te Whare o Rehua will continue to enhance our reputation as a centre for creativity and an exciting visitor destination.”

Te Whare o Rehua Sarjeant Gallery now comprises the soon-to-be 105-year-old heritage-listed Sarjeant Gallery, with its distinctive 14-metre-high dome and Oamaru stone exterior, which has been earthquake-strengthened and meticulously restored, and the new state-of-the-art Te Pātaka o Tā Te Atawhai Archie John Taiaroa. The gallery’s expansion includes a west-facing atrium, serving as a new entrance, and a carved totara waka walk bridge, which links the original heritage gallery to the new wing.

Design has been led by Warren and Mahoney, while the new Te Pātaka o Tā Te Atawhai Archie John Taiaroa wing incorporates visual narratives chosen through the co-design process with Te Kāhui Toi o Tūpoho. A unique element of the co-design is the overarching concept of kānapanapa, the phenomenon of light from the river environment, embodied in the new architecture. The etched black granite cladding and metal tioata inserts, which glint in the light, along with the carved totara waka bridge, seamlessly connect the heritage building to the modern extension.

“As mana whenua for Pukenamu, Whanganui – from the mountain to the sea, we are proud to be partners in this project, which will see cultural narratives of the Whanganui region celebrated through the co-design of the redevelopment, especially in the new wing which is named after Sir Te Atawhai Archie John Taiaroa, an important rangatira, who brought together the people of the Awa. Through these stories, Te Whare o Rehua Sarjeant Gallery will be an internationally unique bicultural facility that we look forward to sharing with visitors from throughout the country and the world,” said Whanganui Kaumatua, John Maihi.

The gallery now features ten exhibition spaces, a family room, a reading room and library, retail space, a café, and publicly accessible event and meeting rooms. Additionally, the facility also includes a temperature and humidity-controlled storage area for its nationally significant permanent collection of works, a photographic studio and workshops.

“This significant project for Whanganui and New Zealand has been nearly 30 years in the making, and I know the opening is eagerly awaited by many,” said Nicola Williams, Te Whare o Rehua Sarjeant Gallery Trust Chairman. “We owe a huge debt of gratitude to all the Gallery’s many nationwide supporters and benefactors, Whanganui ratepayers, Iwi, local and central government. Their collective support, generosity and unwavering commitment comes from a united appreciation of art’s profound impact on society and importance to national and local culture.

“When the gallery opens, we will continue to fulfil Henry Sarjeant’s vision of gifting a ‘House of Inspiration’ for the arts, offering meaningful experiences for future generations. It will be a remarkable example of contemporary and neoclassical architecture and will serve as a place for education, music, oratory, and celebration—a diverse and innovative space where everyone is welcome.”

The opening season will span all of Te Whare o Rehua’s gallery spaces, showcasing a diverse range of historical and contemporary works from the gallery’s nationally significant collection. From gilt-framed paintings to contemporary photography and sculpture, there will be something for everyone.

“One of the strengths of our collection is the many works with strong connections to Whanganui, either through content or the artist themselves deep ties to the area. Developed by our curatorial team, including Greg Donson, Jennifer Taylor, and Jessica Kidd, we’re excited to have commissioned over 20 artists to create new works inspired by their connection to this region.” says Andrew Clifford, Director of Te Whare o Rehua Sarjeant Gallery.

“The gallery’s redeveloped facilities will greatly enhance our ability to engage with the community and reinforce our position as one of Aotearoa New Zealand’s nationally significant regional galleries. The expanded spaces will allow us to host more exhibitions and show more of the collection. Additionally, the new education, event, and social spaces will provide more opportunities for community collaboration, including partnership with iwi and hapū. The restoration and expansion of Te Whare o Rehua Sarjeant Gallery ensures this community asset will thrive in the 21st century and serve generations to come.”

The opening will encompass live performances, events, talks and experiences alongside the official pōwhiri and opening day formalities. The opening exhibitions and programme will be announced later this year.

The gallery is free to enter, and opens to the public on Saturday 9 November 2024.

For press information contact:
Gabby Brunton Te Whare o Rehua Sarjeant Gallery
gabby.brunton@sarjeant.co.nz / 022 090 7377

Sarah Pomeroy Whanganui District Council
sarah.pomeroy@whanganui.govt.nz / 06 349 3060