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Dowse Art Museum

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Established  1971
Name  Dowse Museum

Dowse Art Museum
Location  Lower Hutt, New Zealand

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The Dowse Art Museum is a municipal art gallery in Lower Hutt, New Zealand.


Dowse Art Museum

Opening in 1971 in the Lower Hutt CBD, The Dowse occupies a stand-alone building adjacent to other municipal facilities. The building was completely remodeled in 2013. The Dowse's holdings generally focus on New Zealand artists of both national and local significance.


The Dowse Art Museum is named after Mayor Percy and Mayoress Mary Dowse, both of whom died prior to the museum opening. Percy Dowse served as the mayor of Hutt City from 1950 to 1970. He was a firm believer in the principle of having physical, social, and cultural facilities in modern cities and he initiated a building phase in the city that saw the construction of landmark buildings such as the War Memorial Library, the Lower Hutt Town Hall, and the Ewen Bridge. His wife, Mary Dowse, was an ardent supporter of the arts. She championed the addition of an art gallery to the building spree. She teamed up with Elizabeth Harper from The Hutt Art Society, and the duo lobbied the City Council. They succeeded in their endeavor when, in 1963, the Council agreed to provide space for an art gallery. The gallery was originally housed in an extension of the War Memorial Library but after Mary died in a road accident in 1964 the City Council made a unanimous decision to honor her by constructing a new building for the art gallery. The museum was only partially completed when Percy died in 1970.

David Millar

David Pierre Millar was the founding director, heading the museum 1971–1976. He set the direction of the institution, including buying ceramics and decorative arts.

Jim Barr

Jim Barr was director 1976–1981. Under his watch the Dowse's controversial work, Colin McCahon’s Wall of Death was acquired.

James Mack

James Mack was director 1981–1988.

Bob Maysmor

Bob Maysmor was director 1988–1998.

Tim Walker

Tim Walker was director 1998–2008.

Cam McCracken

Cam McCracken was director 2008-2012, having had roles at Te Tuhi Centre for the Arts in Auckland and the Waikato Museum of Art and History. He left to become director of the Dunedin Public Art Gallery.

Courtney Johnston

Courtney Johnston started as director 2012, after roles at the National Library of New Zealand and Boost New Media where she worked in communications and web roles.


Holdings include national figures such as Ralph Hotere, Colin McCahon, Don Peebles and Gordon Walters as well as locally connected, nationally significant, artists as Rangi Hetet, Rangimārie Hetet, Gordon Crook etc. There have been strong exhibitions of modern Maori and Pacific artists and issues. The Dowse has a bust of Carmen Rupe by Paul Rayner. and significant collections of jewelry by Alan Preston.

Significant exhibitions

  • Casting Light - Ann Robinson - 1998
  • Thrift to Fantasy - Rosemary McLeod - 2003
  • Respect - Hip Hop Aotearoa - DLT, Upper Hutt Posse, Doug and Joella Wright, and Chris Graham, aka Science - 2003
  • Fruits Tokyo Street Style - Shoichi Aoki - 2004
  • References

    Dowse Art Museum Wikipedia