This building is one of Auckland’s greatest treasures. When the space finally opened after years of refurbishment, it felt as if the city had finally started to grow up, to become something uniquely itself. The Gallery is grand, majestic, modern, and yet it also manages to remain true to its historical roots. The permanent collection gives tourists and locals alike an overview of New Zealand art and an understanding of how it’s intertwined and influenced by the greater art world. Equally, the programme of exhibitions each year always manages to push boundaries and expand minds.
The grand, vaulted Kauri canopy is the gallery’s most recognisable and signature feature, but I also love the view from the second floor, just outside the cafe, looking down across the vast atrium, through towering glass windows toward Khartoum Place.
I loved the contrast between the sleekness of the newer parts of the gallery and the older, traditional Grey and McKelvie galleries, with their elaborate detailing and pastel paintwork. Walk through the Grey gallery to find the Maori portraits, with their familiar Goldies and Lindauers, and through that again to huge, contemporary Mace galleries with their prized McCahons.
Regardless of what show is on, the Gallery is always worth a visit, just to sit in the luminous space, or browse the Art Gallery store, or see what’s new on the sculpture terrace. It’s a treasure, and one best polished with the attention of many.