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It's all go at MTG Hawke's Bay

Last night we had the official opening for our latest exhibition, On Art and Activism. This is the first exhibition by our newest Curator, Toni MacKinnon, and it’s a joy to see displays that focus on art back on show. On Art and Activism explores works held in the Hawke’s Bay Museums Trust collection and the political and social times in which they were created. As part of the opening we shared a video on the development of the fine art collection over several decades. In the video Roy Dunningham shares his insights into how the regional art collection has been developed and shaped through changing personalities, politics and other factors.

There’s a lot going on at MTG Hawke’s Bay at the moment. Having just opened On Art and Activism, this week we’re installing another display, Lewis Evans: of time and place, which explores artworks created by the artist before the 1931 Hawke’s Bay earthquake. This small display leads into the earthquake gallery and gives a sense of a gentle seaside 1920’s town before the devastating upheaval of 3 February 1931.

Following this, the team are preparing to take down Mystery of History and Tender is the Night, at the end of August,to make way for a new exhibition on artist Billy Apple, opening late September. This show explores a collaboration, which was about identifying an apple cultivar for which Apple could secure the legal rights to name and distribute commercially. The cultivar was to be called The Billy Apple. The exhibition will tell this story of Apple’s attempt to insert art into the apple market.

After the Billy Apple exhibition opens, Rongonui – Taonga mai ngā tāngata, ngā wāhi, me ngā takahanga: Treasured taonga from people, places and events, will be de-installed and work will begin on a bloody business: Hawke’s Bay Freezing Works opening late November, which examines the history of five prominent freezing works along with the social and economic impact of the closures of Whakatu and Tomoana on the region.

Meanwhile we, like most other organisations, continue to work on what life looks like post-level 4 lockdown. We’re delighted that our visitor numbers have bounced back over the last two months and attribute this to the many New Zealanders who are, during this unusual time, exploring their own country. Currently around 52% of our general visitors are from outside the region and we’re delighted that the feedback we’re getting about MTG continues to be overwhelmingly positive. On a personal note I’ve had more visitors over the last two months than over the last five years, so New Zealanders are certainly getting out and about supporting the regions.

This month our behind the scene tours at the off-site collection store re-start and our first tour, Tightly Laced: Victorian Costumes & Accessories, has proved so popular we’ve already had to add two more to accommodate demand. The collections team do a great job creating interesting tours that cover a range of topics over the course of a year. They’re a great way to get to see more of the collection, have a peek into what it takes to look after such a large number and range of objects, and I’d definitely encourage you to, if you haven’t already, book onto one of these future tours.


  • NZ String Quartet – Beethoven - Universal. MTG Century Theatre, Wednesday 12 August 7.30pm. Tickets available through Eventfinda.
  • Tightly Laced: Victorian Costumes & Accessories (Tour#3). Behind the scenes tour at our offsite storage facility, 1 Ossian Street, Ahuriri. Wednesday 26 August 10-11am. Tickets $10 | $5 Friends of MTG. Tickets available through Eventfinda.
  • Last month to see Mystery of History and Tender is the Night exhibitions, closing 30 August

9 August 2020

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