Like most countries, New Zealand has a national art collection. Unlike most, New Zealand has seemed a bit embarrassed by theirs – perhaps because it’s mainly European (not true) or not very good (also not true), or perhaps just because they couldn’t be bothered… after all, it doesn’t dance around or entertain you for 20 minutes; all it does is hang on a wall. Formally under the care of Te Papa, the National Art Collection got pushed into smaller and remoter spaces until public outcry demanded it back – at which point Te Papa promptly closed it all down for a few years while it ‘created a new exhibition space’ (i.e. returned it to its original space on the 4th and 5th floors.)
Happily for me the Collection makes Te Papa worth visiting again. They treat the wonderful European paintings with some disdain (by shoving them all together high up on a wall where you can’t see them properly), but there are a few rooms of stuff to wander around. Sadly you’re not allowed to photograph the most interesting items, but here are a few to be going on with. It starts with the lovely The Emigrants by William Allsworth, and The Full-rigged Ship Caribou off the Otago Coast by Thomas Robertson.