Behind the Scenes Tour: Auckland Art Gallery

Thursday, 12 October 2017


I wasn't planning on doing a post on this but after doing it yesterday I just had to write about it. Artweek is currently on in Auckland and there are art installations set up as well as museums/galleries putting on events. One, which I did yesterday, was a behind the scenes tour at Auckland Art Gallery. I did the same tour last year and it is of the different conservation departments. The fact that I've done this tour twice shows just how much I love it. My career goal is to be a paintings conservator so getting to see the work they do was amazing and invaluable.

First off we started down in the 'basement' with the objects conservator. We got to go down in the big service elevator which was cool, it's carried a car as well as Rodin's The Kiss. The objects conservation department was a fairly recent addition, the conservator started seven years ago and before that there wasn't one. One of the things she's working on are the 13 painted glass windows which came from a church in Remuera and was painted by Colin McCahon. I remember seeing these from last year, the paint is flaking off and they're quite large pieces of glass. One of the points the conservator made was that the work done was more to repair/preserve works rather than restoring them.

Next, we went up to the painting conservation area which was the part I was most looking forward too. There were a number of works on display and one of the main problems the conservators showed was tears in artworks. Looking at one of the repaired works it was amazing to see before pictures as well as the use of UV light, when shone onto the painting you can clearly see the tears which are almost invisible to the naked eye. There were two areas in the painting department with the other more researching artists and their practices to make sure the right materials are used. A couple of Francis Hodgkin works were displayed and we got to see a cross-section through a microscope. It was incredible to see all the layers of paint from a tiny part of the work.

Lastly we went to see the paper conservators and saw examples of a variety of  damage. One of them was light and it was amazing to see the difference between the original colour of a material and how much pigment it loses from being in any kind of light. Once again we saw before and after on some works and it's amazing to see the end result.

I absolutely loved the tour and found my passion in painting conservation.

Have you been on any behind the scenes tours?

Ashley xx

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