Forrester Gallery reopens to the public

Image: Forrester Gallery logo

The Forrester Gallery has a lot to be excited about.

After being closed since December 2018 the Gallery is now set to reopen to the public from Saturday 13 June 2020. The Gallery was initially shut to enable mould remediation and fire compliance upgrades but due to other unexpected issues such as the discovery of asbestos, the project expanded to incorporate more. The refurbished Gallery now features new fire systems, a new heating system, a completely new lighting system, as well as updated gallery spaces with new wall finishes and flooring. There are also some surprises like the reinstatement of the stairwell window and the installation of a beautiful antique chandelier funded by the Friends of the Forrester, and J W Christie Trust. 

Gallery/Museum/Archive Director Jane Macknight said: “We are really excited to be able to share this wonderful building and art with our community again. We have had to reschedule our programme several times over the last year, initially to meet changing building deadlines and then because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The re-opening exhibitions are a juggle between touring exhibition availability and a desire to reopen the facility to the public in a safe way”.

The opening exhibitions are: Welcome back to your place - an exhibition of contemporary works from the permanent collection which explores the concept of place and identity; and Our Oceans – an art and science collaboration between the University of Otago and Dunedin School of Art. 

People and Culture Group Manager, Lisa Baillie says: “Following further discussions with community the previously scheduled exhibition - The Dawn Raids: educate to liberate has been postponed to early 2021 in the hope that a short delay will enable us to run some really great public programmes and community events leading up to and at the time of the exhibition”.​

The other great news is that just prior to lockdown on 18 February 2020, the Waitaki District Council gave the go ahead to continue with the redevelopment of the Gallery in substantial accordance with the 2016 Cultural Facilities Development Project (CFDP).

The CFDP was put on hold in 2017, but review and reconsideration of the project across 2018 and 2019 has resulted in a decision to go ahead with the construction of an adjoining building to the rear of the Gallery to include: a lift, new touring exhibition galleries and delivery access, new collection storage, a dedicated education and community space and accessible bathrooms.  The Waitaki Museum & Archive will remain on its current site which is also to be upgraded (see our blog update on this project​). Lisa Baillie said: “Funding for the revised CFDP (CFDP2020) will need to be externally sourced and once the project team has been able to do some additional planning, we will provide a more detailed upd​ate on the project”. 

For more information about visiting hours and how the Gallery plans to provide a safe and enjoyable visit in accordance with COVID-19 Pandemic Level guidelines please go to the VISIT page on www.culturewaitaki.org.nz​

Ingrid Cole