Editorial: Gallery success food for thought


It was encouraging to hear Tauranga Art Gallery enjoyed its busiest month this July, since opening in 2007.

I still remember putting on a hard-hat and high-vis vest and taking a guided tour through the semi-demolished shell of the BNZ bank while the former gallery manager explained the vision for a contemporary art gallery in the heart of Tauranga.

It was an indication Tauranga was beginning to grow into the city its population reflected.

I have visited a few times since, possibly not enough, given the reaction of one city visitor who gave me an enthusiastic review of the current exhibition - Corrugations: The Art of Jeff Thomson - yesterday.

I only hope the gallery's growing popularity will inspire the incoming Tauranga city councillors to think hard about the need and value of a museum to complement Tauranga's cultural assets. Last month's boost in visitor numbers was partially linked to an influx of schoolchildren, many of whom had their chance to create their own art featuring Mauao.

Gallery manager Penelope Jackson told the Bay of Plenty Times the gallery was fully booked with school groups most weeks. What a fantastic way to introduce the next generation to art and photography.

It is disappointing that at this stage the same generation have to travel outside their hometown - the fifth largest city in New Zealand - to experience a museum.

Six years on from the museum being a hotly contested election issue, even the question of where we should put it remains up for debate.

It's time the city got on with it.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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