Christchurch is about to get an architecturally designed new art home, Ravenscar House Museum

Christchurch is about to get an architecturally designed new art home, Ravenscar House Museum

Ravenscar House Museum, Christchurch's stylish new home for a wonderful collection that celebrates New Zealand art and artists, opens to the public on Monday 8 November.

Christchurchians soon be able to view an incredible art collection curated over years by Christchurch's Wakefield family. Ravenscar House Museum will site opposite Canterbury Museum on Rolleston Drive in the central city.

Designed by Patterson Associates, Ravenscar House Museum is the vision of Christchurch philanthropists Susan and the late Jim Wakefield who have gifted this new visitor attraction to the people of Christchurch and Canterbury through their Ravenscar Trust.

The House Museum at 52 Rolleston Avenue displays the Wakefield’s art collection (the Ravenscar Trust Collection) of paintings, decorative arts, furniture and antiquities. Works include paintings by Frances Hodgkins, Colin McCahon, Ralph Hotere and a wide range of other beloved New Zealand artists.

The Wakefields began collecting art in the late 1980s. Their collection was displayed in a lavishly-decorated and furnished home that they built on Whitewash Head in the coastal Christchurch suburb of Scarborough.

The couple planned to eventually gift that house and the collection to the people of Christchurch, but in 2011 the Canterbury earthquakes damaged their Scarborough home beyond repair and the land was red-zoned.

The Wakefields eventually settled on a new site for the rebuilt house. This was gifted to the Museum for the project by the Christchurch City Council in 2015, following public consultation.

The House Museum comprises a foyer and four main rooms reminiscent of the principal rooms at the Scarborough House – the dining room, bedroom, living room and library – arranged around a central courtyard. A glazed gallery overlooks a sculpture terrace and the garden which has been designed by Auckland landscape architect, Suzanne Turley.

The precast concrete panels that make up the exterior walls are faced with crushed earthquake rubble – a mix of volcanic stone donated by the neighbouring Christchurch Arts Centre, brick from a demolished Christchurch house and Italian granite from the courtyard of the Scarborough house. The panels were made by Ashburton company Bradford Precast.

Steve Wakefield, Chair of the Ravenscar Trust, says “We are delighted to be opening the doors to Ravenscar House for the people of Canterbury after 8 years of planning, design and construction. My parents’ vision was that this place would not just be a gallery or a home for the artworks, but a building that was itself a work of art and that it would be admired for its design, and that was provocative and inspirational.

“Our team has truly delivered a stunning result and our family is very happy that we will soon be welcoming the public to Ravenscar House Museum to enjoy the best of New Zealand art and architecture.”

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