The $50 million art collection of prominent businessman James Wallace, a cornucopia of more than 4000 New Zealand modern works, has found a public home at the Pah Homestead in Hillsborough.
"I'm fantastically excited. We have been looking for a permanent home for the collection for years," says Mr Wallace, who began collecting New Zealand art in the late 1960s.
The collection will go on public display at the Pah Homestead in Monte Cecilia Park. Auckland City Council acquired the homestead in a state of disrepair and has been restoring it.
The council voted unanimously on Thursday night to commit a further $6.7 million to the homestead, one of the largest and finest homes in Auckland when it was built between 1877 and 1879 by businessman James Williamson.
It is located in a park-like setting with some of the finest exotic trees in Auckland and magnificent views to Manukau Harbour.
Mayor John Banks said the collection was a truly magnificent gift to Auckland and arguably the biggest since Sir John Logan Campbell gave Cornwall Park.
Mr Banks said bringing the Wallace collection to Pah Homestead made it possible to complete the restoration in the current economic climate.
He already has a donation of $1 million, and a further $500,000 from the James Wallace Trust, and is confident of raising more money and getting companies to contribute work and materials to bring the cost down.
The goal is to complete work and open the collection to the public this year.
Mr Wallace, who lives in the 1915 arts and crafts home Rannoch in Epsom, said he had a great love of architecture and to see one of the few great mansions in New Zealand restored was heartening.
The collection will continue to be managed by the James Wallace Arts Trust, which owns the strongest collection of a number of senior artists, such as Toss Woollaston and Philip Trusttum, and of many emerging and mid-careers artists.
It contains many works of other established artists and has initiated more than 70 commissions ranging from Pat Hanly stained glass windows to Terry Stringer sculptures.
Mr Wallace's original aim was to assist emerging artists.
The trust has continued to acquire the work of artists as they emerge and mature to create a "diary collection".
Eighteen years ago, Mr Wallace established the annual Wallace Art Awards.
These are now the longest-surviving and richest annual art awards of their kind in Australasia, amounting to more than $85,000. The winner is awarded a six-month residency in New York.
Arts historian Hamish Keith said it was great to see the private Wallace collection becoming a public collection, and great that the city had taken it on. The collection represented another eye in the growth of visual arts in New Zealand, he said.
As well as a home for the collection, the Pah Homestead will be used for charitable activities and have an artist-in-residence. There will be catering and restaurant facilities.
JAMES WALLACE ART COLLECTION
* Started in the late 1960s with purchase of a Toss Woollaston painting.
* Now comprises more than 4000 paintings and sculptures valued at $50 million.
* The James Wallace Arts Trust was established in 1992.
* The annual Wallace Art Awards are the richest awards of their type in Australasia.
* The Pah Homestead will become the public home of the collection.