Auckland Art Gallery

Opened in 1888 the Auckland Art Gallery shared its building with Auckland’s Free Public Library which had opened a year earlier to house Sir George Grey’s personal collection of rare books, letters, photographs, ephemera, manuscripts, drawings and maps. 

In December 1946 local newspapers announced that Philip Edmiston had died and left a bequest to assist the city to build a new gallery. It was excellent timing as it was felt a modern art gallery was long overdue. The Trust entered into discussions with Council in the late 1950s reaching an agreement in 1967 for a substantial redevelopment of the existing Art Gallery building while the library moved to a new building across the road.

The first project of the newly formed Edmiston Trust honoured Philip Edmiston’s wish for Auckland to have a fine art gallery. The Edmiston Wing, opened on the 16th April 1971, consisted of four new galleries, a sculpture garden, a five floor administration block, and a mechanical services unit.

In 1985 the Trust funded it first art purchase for the gallery, the George Rickey Double L Excentric Gyratory 1985. Since then it has assisted the gallery, by acquiring sculptures by New Zealand and international artists including Len Lye and Anish Kapoor.

Jacques Carabain’s painting Queen Street, Auckland 1889, depicting the now demolished Victoria Arcade, was also acquired by the Trust for the Art Gallery. The NZ Insurance Company commissioned the Arcade, which was built in 1906 the year Philip Edmiston retired from the company. The arcade later housed many artists’ studios.

By 2008 the Art Gallery again needed to expand and the Trust pledged to continue its support, although the 1971 Edmiston wing was to be demolished to allow for the new development.

The Trust agreed to sponsor an artwork to mark the Art Gallery’s re-opening. Internationally renowned Berlin based, Danish artist, Jeppe Hein was selected. At the September 2011 opening his installation Long Modified Bench Auckland, was unveiled on the Edmiston Sculpture Terrace.

The Trust continues this partnership with the Auckland Art Gallery by acquiring significant artworks for the collection.