The public is invited to gather on the forecourt of the Sarjeant Gallery at Pukenamu Queens Park to acknowledge the gallery's 100th birthday at 3pm on Friday, September 6.

This public ceremony will include speeches, choir performances from Schola Sacra Choir and the Wanganui Community Choir and, of course, there will be cake.

And not just any cake.

Cake designer Stacey Williams is designing and constructing her own Sarjeant Gallery cake, which will be cut by the gallery's previous directors - Gordon Brown (1974-1977), Bill Milbank (1978-2006) and current director Greg Anderson, who together have stewarded the Sarjeant Gallery for the past 45 years.


The gallery was built between 1917 and 1919 due to a generous gift to the city from Henry Sarjeant, and it was his intention (as stated in his 1912 will) that it be built "for the inspiration of ourselves and those who follow us".

I'm sure Henry would be pleased that the community will celebrate the Sarjeant Gallery's 100th birthday together and it continues to inspire as he had intended.

On Saturday, September 7, the River City Big Band will perform at the River Traders Market from 10.30am till 11.30am to celebrate the birthday and mayor Hamish McDouall will give a speech at 11am.

At Sarjeant on the Quay there is a day of free activities planned and the new exhibition, Turn of a Century: New Perspectives on Collecting and Exhibiting over the last 100 Years, will be open for the first time.

The exhibition showcases new works by contemporary artists who are responding to the Sarjeant in its 100th year, works from the Sarjeant's permanent collection and also the Friends Centenary Chandelier will be revealed.

Curator and public programmes manager Greg Donson will speak to several of the exhibiting artists from 10.45am to 12pm and throughout the rest of the day the gallery will host art demonstrations, musical performances and activities for children in the education room.

Messages for future generations can be delivered via a specially made glass time capsule - a birthday gift from NZ Glassworks.

The capsule will be available for missives for the next 12 months, at which point it will be sealed and stored with the collection artworks until 2119.


Gallery staff have also had a lot of fun dreaming up fun and inventive quizzes for adults and children to have a crack at and the Sarjeant Gallery has been gifted some terrific prizes by local businesses to give out as spot prizes to Sarjeant on the Quay visitors as a kind of reverse birthday present.

Opposite the Rutland at Ridgway pop up park there will be food, coffee and a free bouncy castle for children to enjoy.

That night there will be a birthday concert at The Musicians Club at 65 Drews Ave with the Wanganui Ukulele Orchestra and skiffle band Hot Potato. Tickets are available at the Sarjeant.

As Whanganui grew and thrived in 1919 - the Sarjeant, the Durie Hill elevator and other buildings threw open their doors for the first time and 100 years later Whanganui is a New Zealand city which houses an unusual amount of stunning and intact European and Māori-built heritage.

The inaugural Wanganui Heritage Month celebrates this history and in addition to the Sarjeant's Centenary events, the gallery will host another dozen events for Whanganui Heritage Month.

The free Whanganui Heritage Month brochure is available at Sarjeant on the Quay and has more than 40 events listed.