Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Move, move, move

Te Papa has always been bad for art. From the early days of Ian Wedde’s curation when art was used as back-fill to illustrate ‘our stories’ to now when it’s just the permanent collection sliced and diced into endless theme shows, art has always been filed under T for tiresome obligation.  Up on the fifth floor, out of the way (retailers talk of a 30 percent drop in customers with each floor up), it’s been a sorry fall from grace since Te Papa took control of the National Art Gallery.

So when word gets out that art is to be moved down a couple floors, it’s got to be a good thing, right? Maybe. It will certainly be good to get it out of the low-slung area that was originally designed as a library and the long promenade that was initially pegged for functions, but let’s not get too excited. It will still be a move to another repurposed space and Te Papa’s art problems are more about differentiating the audiences it wants and figuring out how to engage them over the long-term. 

Still, as they said when Te Papa was being built, ‘you have to give it a chance’.  (#yeahthatworked). So in the spirit of here's-hoping, let’s see if a recent invitation to ‘arts stakeholders’ to hear about a ‘bold new direction for the arts at Te Papa’ on 18 November is going to be about more than just the art going down. We'll let you know.