How and why do works make their way into a public art collection? Who decides what will be hung on the walls, placed on plinths, displayed in cases? These important, but seldom discussed, questions lie at the heart of this 'cultural biography' of the 70 years during which the Robert McDougall Art Gallery was Christchurch's civic art gallery. The book explains how the collection came together, how it developed, and how the public, and artists and critics, reacted to it. The book is presented in three parts, each of which has its own introduction. It provides an analytical framework in detail and in context by defining terms and explaining particular, recurrent concepts. These include, and indeed highlight, selection and presentation cultures derived from the core museological functions of collection and display. These, together with the framework's other concepts, are related to mainstream methodology in the social sciences, particularly political science. The latter is especially relevant to the study of a public art gallery - owned and funded by the public and its elected representatives, and controlled by these representatives and their appointed agents.
Furthermore, the framework explores the concept of post-colonial tensions between heritages - specifically indigenous, transplanted and autochthonous ones. The significance of this becomes more apparent when the concepts used in relevant previous studies of specific public art galleries in New Zealand are reviewed. There is also a strong emphasis on the development of a public Maori art collection. It is a story, too, of vivid and influential personalities - the directors and curators who fought for the gallery and the artists represented in it. But the book is more than just the story of a single gallery's collection: it shines a light on concerns and patterns that will be familiar to galleries everywhere, and provides a unique perspective on New Zealand's cultural development over much of the twentieth century.
Publisher: Cambridge Scholars Publishing
Number of pages: 420
Dimensions: 212 x 148 mm
Edition: Unabridged edition