In early December 1965, University funds were allotted for the purchase of artworks within the 1966 academic year. The collection was inaugurated by the acquisition of a painting and two drawings by Colin McCahon.
Since then the collection has acquired some major works by significant New Zealand artists, including Gretchen Albrecht, Don Binney, Neil Dawson, Pat Hanly, Frances Hodgkins, Paul Hartigan, Ralph Hotere, Colin McCahon, Milan Mrkusich, Gordon Walters, John Weeks, Robin White and Toss Woollaston.
Almost fifty years later, with the amalgamation of the College of Education collection, there are now around 1500 works in the collection, displayed on the Grafton, Epsom, Tamaki and City campuses. As buildings are redeveloped or earthquake strengthened, works are removed for safekeeping and stored in the vault at the Kenneth Myers Centre in Shortland Street before redeployment in offices, meeting rooms, hallways and teaching rooms across the University.
The collection is an invaluable resource for teaching, learning and research. Postgraduate research on the collection has included a thesis on its own history as an entity, monograph exhibitions on individual artists such as ‘A Continuous Line: the art of Dennis K. Turner’ which was based on art history postgraduate student Richard Wolfe’s MA thesis, is now touring to Rotorua and Hamilton. Surveys of the relationship of the evolution of the University’s art collection to the development of Auckland’s dealer galleries, has resulted in exhibitions and publications such as Vuletic and His Circle (about the Petar/James Gallery) in 2003 and New Vision Gallery in 2008.
Individual works from the collection are reproduced in books, serials and on websites as well as being loaned for exhibition to art galleries and museums around the country and in Australia, making the collection an asset which is valued nationally as a key part of New Zealand’s cultural heritage.
* Some arts are not displayed because of copyright restrictions or their copyright status is being determined.
Find out about the history of The University of Auckland's Art Collection.
A series of essays on individual works in the collection, published in the University's fortnightly newsletter UniNews.
Take a tour of the collection from the comfort of you computer, or take your computer with you into the wild.
Artworks are available for display in approved areas around the university.