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Providing key support for the New Zealand Portrait Gallery

People at a gallery opening

The New Zealand Portrait Gallery Te Pūkenga Whakaata is dedicated to sharing the stories of New Zealanders through the art of portraiture, presenting eight new exhibitions each year at its Wellington home in Shed 11, an Edwardian heritage building on the waterfront.

Unlike traditional portrait galleries that focus on historic figures and leaders, the New Zealand Portrait Gallery celebrates the diverse people and communities who have shaped, and continue to shape, Aotearoa. Each exhibition is curated to explore an artist or theme that highlights a unique perspective on our country. Stories are told through a wide range of artistic styles, from paintings and sculptures to caricatures, photographs and films, from historic and traditional to modern, contemporary and experimental.

Lady and Man standing with their backs facing outwards in a shop

The Gallery is open daily and free to all visitors. It offers a variety of free public programmes for people to connect with the exhibitions. These include artist and curator floor talks, panel discussions, painting demonstrations, and water-colour, drawing and textile workshops and film screenings – which attract almost 600 participants.  Our Front of House Team contributed actively to the preparation and delivery of all these activities.  The Gallery also has a whānau space with hands-on activities to enable children to engage with the art.

Lady with hand on wall with people behind her

Depending on the exhibition when you visit, you might see portraits by renowned New Zealand artists such as Ian Scott, Robyn Kahukiwa and Toss Woollaston. You might delve into history, with recent exhibitions of contemporary portraits of 1980s New Zealand, photos of life in Hamilton state housing, and the New Zealand Wars as portrayed in film. You might experience Aotearoa through the eyes of New Zealanders with diverse heritage and perspectives, with recent exhibitions sharing stories of our Chinese, Indian and Rainbow communities. Each year you can enjoy new works by finalists in one of the Gallery's biennial portraiture competitions, the Adam Portraiture Award for painted portraits and the Kiingi Tuheitia Portraiture Award for emerging Māori artists. Many exhibitions tour across the motu to connect more people with New Zealand stories, histories and artists. The Gallery also tours many of its exhibitions to regional museums and galleries.  In 2023 our touring exhibitions travelled to 11 other centres including in Auckland and Waikato, and this year the 2023 Kiingi Tuheitia Portraiture finalists’ exhibition will be shown at Te Kōngahu Museum of Waitangi in Northland.

Lady sitting in gallery setting with men painting her protrait

The Freemasons Foundation provides key support to the Gallery, helping the Gallery remain free and accessible to all, since we do not receive core government funding. Specifically, the Freemasons backs our Front of House team who are all locals who take pride in welcoming visitors to the Gallery, helping them to understand and connect with the artworks. Often these visitors are from overseas, so our Front of House team are the ambassadors not only for the Gallery but for New Zealand’s stories on the world stage. The Gallery is deeply grateful to the Freemasons Foundation for supporting this manaakitanga and ensuring that we can continue our mahi for the benefit of all New Zealanders.


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Freemasons Fiundation Logo
Freemasons Fiundation Logo
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