Friday, September 18, 2015

The gift that keeps on giving

Christchurch leading the field. Who knew? Just as private collectors building their own museums is starting to be a big thing (see the media frenzy over the opening of the Broad in Los Angeles), Christchurch is going to have its own private collection based art museum. It's thanks to collectors Jim and Susan Wakefield via their Ravenscar Trust. The house that once held their collection was wiped out by the quake and they decided to use the insurance money plus some to create their own museum in the Christchurch Arts precinct. It's to be called the Ravenscar House Museum. The collection headlines with Colin McCahon (five), Rita Angus and Frances Hodgkins (ten) but we can assume there are probably other less known names in there as well. A professional appraiser rather carefully described the collection that has been assembled over ten or so years as ‘far greater than the sum of its parts’. Also, rather curiously, the art is to be displayed chronologically in a series of period rooms. Given the Wakefields have been prominent supporters and the fact that the collection includes 110 paintings it’s more than likely it was first offered to the Christchurch Art Gallery and declined (the period room thing would be enough do it). The out-moded approach didn’t hold back the Canterbury Museum though which has announced plans for the new $13 million building to be designed by Len Lye Centre architect Andrew Patterson. It will display what it describes as a collection of art, sculpture (that’s art too folks), modernist furniture and classical antiquities. The Canterbury Museum plans to support the operation of the house museum from its existing staff and resources and expects it to be self-funding via ticket sales (at the moment they’re thinking $20 a pop), car parks and ‘other income’. Well, good luck to everyone with that.

Images: two works from the Ravenscar collection, left Colin McCahon’s 1943 painting Taylor’s mistake and right Frances Hodgkin’s Still life self portrait. You can download the Christchurch Council's pdf with background on the new museum here.