Collection policy

The New Zealand Portrait Gallery is principally an exhibition gallery of works of portraiture in oil and watercolour, drawing and lithography, print and photography, sculpture and video. Our aim is to portray portrait works by and of New Zealanders, and portrait works collected by New Zealanders.

Since the purchase of a long term lease of Shed 11 in 2010, our aim has been to develop this space to reach museum quality standard, and to provide proper storage, so that we can build, develop and maintain a significant collection of portrait works for the nation. The first stage of this ambitious aim was accomplished in 2012 with the seismic strengthening of the building, the refurbishment of the Gallery space, and the provision of a secure storage area under controlled atmospheric conditions.

In the current absence of funds permitting the development of an historic collection through purchase, we are focusing on collecting contemporary portraits with the expectation of their future historic significance.

Portraits sought fall into four categories of either historic or contemporary portraiture:

  1. the subject is a New Zealander, either by birth or association;
  2. the subject and/or the artist is a significant figure in his or her field;
  3. the subject is a known individual whose life is or has been part of the history of New Zealand or is strongly linked to our culture; and
  4. the work or works form(s) part or the whole of a significant collection linked to the history of New Zealand.

We also wish to encourage the sponsorship of portraits, and In due course plan to find sponsorship for a portrait laureate who would prepare a number of portraits for the NZPG collection during the term of the laureateship.

Currently we expect the collection to expand largely through donations of works and we encourage you to think positively about donating works that fulfill our criteria.

Any portrait offered to us will be assessed by an advisory panel convened by the Director. The donation will be confirmed in an exchange of letters.  Where appropriate the donor may be asked to retain the work under secure conditions until such time as we have confirmed that we have sufficient appropriate storage, when the work will be transferred to the Gallery’s keeping.

Where the donor is unable or unwilling to guarantee safe custody of the work, the Gallery will take possession immediately, and seek secure storage for it elsewhere.

All portrait donations to the Gallery will be identified as a gift, with the donor’s name, date of the gift, and any other relevant details that the donor may wish to record.

The Gallery is particularly interested in receiving portrait bequests. The Director is happy to discuss this to ensure the process is managed effectively for both parties.

Monetary legacies for the purchase of portrait works are also encouraged, either on a one-off basis for the purchase of particular works or through gifts to the endowment fund earmarked for future purchases.


The Director
Gaelen Macdonald
Ph: (04) 472 2298
Email: Director