Monday, December 02, 2013


Watching the efforts of public art museums to attract their audiences often makes apparent the chasm between the marketers and the curators. Tried and true ways to pull the people that seem obvious to marketers are often at odds with the programming strategies of the very same institutions. Its crudest form was to be seen in campaigns like the Saatchi & Saatchi billboards displaying fake McCahons to promote the opening of the City Gallery in Wellington 20 years ago.

To promote its latest tranche of exhibitions Te Papa has taken to art punning duos (‘art warming’, ‘art stopping’ etc.) setting ‘ordinary visitor types’ against art works (striking self portrait by Rita Angus / striking photo of a contemporary woman that looks a bit like her). We didn’t say it was subtle, and a major upside is that the poster pasters themselves can zoom it up, which is fun for the rest of us. 

In the north, Auckland Art Gallery in the midst of its major commitment to showing contemporary art has decided to advertise that it is …. free.  While this is a classic ticketing venue approach (where tickets are usually paid for) it’s bizarre for an institution that rarely charges for New Zealand exhibitions and never does for general entry. And the marketer’s call to action?  “A summer showcase of new exhibitions and special events”.  Exciting. What ever happened to promoting Freedom Farmers as one of the most ambitious exhibitions of local contemporary art that the Auckland Art Gallery has ever mounted? Its title is only included in the smallest of type as part of a photo credit. Art Breaking.

Images: Top TePapa, bottom AAG