Wednesday, August 15, 2012


The Dowse is after a new director now that Cam McCracken is headed south to run the Dunedin Public Art Gallery. There have been some big changes under his direction and they've accelerated since curator Emma Bugden arrived. McCracken inherited some confused spaces and entrances and has only recently brought them back into clearer focus. When you add to that a fresh programme of exhibitions via Bugden - life at the Dowse was starting to look up. 
Let's hope the new director keeps the place heading in the same sort of direction. In its fractured history (of which we played a part: Jim was director from 1976-1980) the Dowse has see-sawed at the changing passions and whims of the individual directors. Its audience has been tossed around between craft gallery, art gallery a Te Papa type local community museum and now a more stable version of an expansive contemporary art museum. And of course the collections reflect this erratic path. Little wonder it recently needed yet a further rebranding (Dowse Art Gallery –> New Dowse –> Dowse Art Museum) during McCracken’s tenure
With new energy around craft and contemporary art and more innovative digital outreach, the Dowse could build an important national role and excite its local community. What the Dowse doesn't need is another change in direction or another attempt at mimicking Te Papa (people, you need bigger budgets than the Hutt is ever going to have to do that).
Apparently applications have closed so a decision can't be too far away.