Forrester Gallery to expand after $6.5 million funding award

Published on 18 September 2023

Mayor & Chloe outside Forrester Gallery

Ōamaru's Forrester Gallery will celebrate a very happy 40th anniversary this year with news of $6.5 million in funding provided by the Government's Regional Culture and Heritage Fund for the Stage 2 extension of the heritage building.

The extension focuses on collection care and accessibility, with a new accessible community education space, and improved facilities such as a lift, toilets and parking. The new wing provides more space for exhibitions as well as climate-controlled storage for their 2,500 piece collection of New Zealand art.

Chloe Searle, Director of the Forrester Gallery, says “I am delighted with this announcement. The extension of the Forrester Gallery building has been long awaited and I am very relieved and happy that we can now make our beautiful gallery accessible and provide better care for our art collection.”

The extension of the Forrester Gallery was first publicly discussed in the 1990's to address building challenges, including the lack of a lift. In 2019, having supported previous stages of development, Waitaki District Council approved the Stage 2 expansion on the condition that external funds were sought for the project.

Waitaki District Mayor, Gary Kircher, says “This is absolutely fantastic news. It's been a long road but it's testament to the courage and passion of the Cultural Facilities Team. They've never given up on this project, which will help protect part of Waitaki's important cultural heritage and make it accessible to all. Securing this amount of funding means we can be assured we'll get the quality building we want and infuse some artistic design into the building itself.”

Along with the announced funding, the Gallery would like to recognise other funding partners including Lottery, Environment and Heritage, and the Christie Trust.

Special thanks also go to the long-term fundraising efforts and support given by the Friends of Forrester Gallery, artists, and the local community.

The extension will involve work across Council, with Heritage New Zealand and other experts as the Forrester Gallery is a Category One heritage building.

Total funds granted are now around $7 million, which includes funds held by the Friends of the Forrester Gallery, bequests and recent grants. Fundraising by the Friends of the Forrester Gallery is ongoing for aspects of the building fitout.

With the majority of funds required now raised, Council can progress to final building design work and tendering for the project. Further details about the extension will be available as the project progresses.