An incredible collection of more than 250 art works by Dutch-born Rotorua artist Walter Bakkenes has been donated to the Rotorua Museum by his widow Dora.

Now in her 80s, Mrs Bakkenes has been looking for a suitable home where the significant collection of her late husband's work could be kept together and looked after for posterity.

She said she was keen to have the works cared for by a museum, and as her husband had such a strong connection with Rotorua, Rotorua Museum was the obvious choice.

The collection reflects the diverse range of experiences from Bakkenes' life and includes war sketches, abstract works, landscapes, portraits and reliefs. Even his art materials, which he was using until his death in 1986, are included in the collection.


Born in 1920, Bakkenes grew up in Amersfoort near Utrecht in The Netherlands. During the Second World War he, along with his father Drees, were taken to a labour camp in Steenderen.

He escaped from Steenderen but in 1944, due to his anti-German views, he was sent to Camp Erika in Ommen where he again escaped and made his way to the Canadian forces which were liberating Holland's northern region.

Bakkenes emigrated to Rotorua in 1952 and initially worked as a house painter before joining the Forest Research Institute in 1960. It wasn't until 1967, after paying off his house, that he was finally able to work fulltime as an artist, whilst supplementing his income teaching both art and music.

Bakkenes died at the age of 66, leaving behind a massive catalogue of his works for future generations to enjoy.

The Rotorua Museum is planning an exhibition of the donated collection to be shown later this year.

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