‘Art for everyone’ breaks records at Te Papa

Having surpassed its visitor target of 350,000 visitors in its first year, Te Papa’s new art gallery Toi Art has welcomed 670,346 visitors since opening in March 2018.

Charlotte Davy, Te Papa Head of Art, says that the new art gallery is a place to have fun with art.

“Toi Art has truly become a place for conversation, learning, storytelling, performance, and creative response.”

“A staggering 670,000 visitors have seen art at Te Papa in the last year, which makes it the most attended art gallery in the country. Art is for everyone, and we are thrilled that the public is seeing more art, more often at Te Papa,” she says.

Toi Art has remotivated Wellington City residents to visit Te Papa, with over 30,000 more locals visiting the museum since the gallery opened.

Curious Creatures After Dark, 2018. Photo by Jo Moore. Te Papa (124044)

In the last year, Te Papa’s Learning team hosted over 3,500 students in Toi Art.

Art students from Wellington High School co-created Tony Fomison: Lost in the Dark, with Te Papa curators.

Student Elijah Neilson, says the co-curating experience has made a lasting impression.

“Getting some insight into how exhibitions are made, and seeing behind the scenes at Te Papa has been so interesting,” he says.

Neilson said that a career in art had once seemed to be inaccessible.

“But being involved with this co-curating project, while being in high school has been so helpful.

“There should be more communication between children/teenagers with a world beyond high school, and I’m grateful that Te Papa has been one of the places to help with this.”

The art gallery has been a hub of activity with over 30 public programmes featuring performance, dance, fashion, film, and music.

Ms Davy says Toi Art offers a different experience.

One visitor commented “It’s just a really easy, accessible space. And it made me proud to be a New Zealander.”

“These factors have helped provide visitors to Toi Art with a very different art gallery experience. There is an informality that feels different to what some expect of an art gallery,” Ms Davy says.

The heart of Toi Art is Tūrangawaewae: Te Toi o Aotearoa, which displays beloved works from the national collection with paintings by C.F. Goldie, Gottfried Lindauer, Rita Angus, Ralph Hotere, Colin McCahon, Gordon Walters, and Robyn Kahukiwa.

“Visitors feel like they are being reunited with old friends when they experience Tūrangawaewae. This exhibition makes people proud to be New Zealanders. It’s very humbling,” says Davy.

Notes to editors

Quotes from visitors

  • “You walk in and there’s art in the middle of the room, up on scaffolding and you’re viewing it from different angles and interacting in ways I didn’t think I could interact with art … kind of just blew my mind.”

  • “I thought Toi Art was … one of the most impressive installations I’ve seen. That’s why I’ve come back two or three times … it’s diverse, there’s lots of different things to do.”

  • “It’s just a really easy, accessible space. And it made me proud to be a New Zealander.”

  • “Feels like coming home. [It’s] comforting. I love it.”

Toi Art: By the numbers

  • 2 levels of art

  • 10 new artworks made for the opening

  • $8.4 million investment in the new art gallery

  • 3,980m2 floor area of Toi Art

  • 35% more space for art

  • 40,000 artworks in the national art collection

  • 74 km wall length needed to display entire national art collection (direct flight from Wellington to Blenheim)

  • 150,000 photographs in Te Papa’s collection

  • 45 natural materials in Tiffany Singh’s new work Indra’s bow – including dried plums, rosebuds, dragon’s blood, and blue peas

  • 1.5 million visitors to Te Papa per year

  • 16,000 hours works by builders on the new gallery

  • 38,000 nails used to build Toi Art

  • 142,290 screws

  • 30 tonnes steel

  • 20 km timber


Dropbox link and credits and captions

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Media contact

Ellie Campbell
Senior Communications Adviser
029 601 0120