Aigantighe is the name of the historic house that became the foundation of this museum in 1956. It was built in 1908 as the retirement home of Alexander Grant (1832-1921) and Helen Grant (1854 -1955), who had emigrated from Scotland and farmed Gray's Hill Station in the Mackenzie Country.
It was the wish of Mrs Grant that Aigantighe become an art gallery for the general public. She lived in the house until her death in 1955, aged 101. Her wishes were followed and Aigantighe was donated to the people of Timaru that same year.
Aigantighe Art Gallery opened in 1956 with a collection donated by the Grant family and the South Canterbury Arts Society.
Since that time, the collection has grown exponentially but the Edwardian house gallery continues to display the artworks in a unique and beautiful setting. The original staircase, fireplaces, and stained glass windows are features of timeless elegance.
The corridor is lined with British Victorian paintings, the South Canterbury room holds artwork by local artists, while the Favourites room continually displays masterpieces by Charles Goldie, Frances Hodgkins and Colin McCahon. The three upstairs rooms hold temporary exhibitions of works all sourced from the permanent collection.
A large modern wing was added to the house in 1978, providing a foyer and reception area, offices and collection storage, a children's art area, and an extensive gallery space. This extension has enabled the Aigantighe to show major exhibitions sourced from outside the collection, ranging from group shows of local artists to touring national and international shows.