Art Gallery Collection Policy


1.0  Purpose

The Aigantighe Art Gallery Collection Policy provides a set of principles for the responsible stewardship and sharing though public access and use of collection art works held at Aigantighe Art Gallery.

This Policy is supported by comprehensive operational guidelines, procedures and standards, such as the Museums Aotearoa Code of practice and is updated when necessary.

2.0  Background


Aigantighe is the name of the historic house that became the foundation of the Art Gallery in 1956.  It was built in 1908 as the retirement home of Alexander Grant (1832 – 1921) and Helen Grant (1854 – 1955), who emigrated from Scotland and farmed Gray’s Hill Station in the Mackenzie Country.  It was the wish of Mrs Grant that the Aigantighe became an art gallery for the general public. She lived in Aigantighe until her death in 1955.  Her wishes were followed with the Aigantighe and surrounding grounds donated to the people of Timaru in 1955.

Aigantighe Art Gallery is the result of these 3 gifts which were given to the Timaru District Council.  Aigantighe opened to the pubic in August 1956 with a collection of 80 works which comprised of the two art donations - the first from the Grant family and the second from the South Canterbury Arts Society.

Since that time the collection and gallery has grown exponentially with the Edwardian house displaying work from the permanent collection.

There are over 1500 pieces in the collection with around 10% of this collection on display at any one time.

Much of the collection was gifted either by direct donation or as a monetary bequest.

The rest of the collection includes a variety of works celebrating Victorian and Edwardian art works, Japanese prints, European prints, Australian art, Chinese art, Sculptures, Antique china and more.

The aim is to achieve a unified and balanced overall collection.

Background and context to the policy

  • The acquisition of works of art is central to an art museum function.
  • The Gallery will collect works of art which exemplify excellence, and / or are of historical and / or artistic significance to the Timaru District and wider Canterbury region and where appropriate (to strengthen existing parts of) to its collection art works by significant national and international artists.
  • The gallery will consider acquisitions of works of art by gift, bequest, purchase, transfer or exchange.
  • The relationship between cultural activities and education, employment, and economic development is well recognised by Central and Local Government policy.  The presence of a respected Art Gallery institution contributes to local identity, pride of place, and social cohesion.  It acts as a focal point for the artistic life of the district, celebrates the diversity of local communities, and provides a quality learning and leisure activity.  It is a strong feature of the District and helps to attract new residents to the region along with tourists.

3.0  Key Definitions

  • Works of Art or Art Works encompasses all media including paintings, sculpture, drawings, prints, ceramic art, glass, fibre art, photography, film, video documentation of conceptual art and site specific installations.
  • Acquisition - an art work bought or obtained.
  • Accession - a new art work added to an existing collection.
  • Deaccession - the removal of art work or works from the collection.

4.0  Policy

The Aigantighe Art Gallery is the home of visual art in South Canterbury, creating connections between people and art.  Aigantighe seeks to develop and care for the collection for the people of today and generations to come.  Gallery staff aim to present creative, stimulating and enjoyable exhibitions for locals and visitors, now and into the future.

4.1      Collection

Collection Management depends on effective information management. Collection Policy provides a set of principles that guide the responsible management of the collection of works held at Aigantighe Art Gallery.  This is an essential tool for managing the collection within the usual boundaries of budget, space and staff.

Collection management involves tasks such as; Movement & Control, Risk Management Security, Insurance & Indemnity Management Cataloguing Legal information (ownership of title, rights information), Financial information (valuations), Access information (conditions of use).  Regular checking of the condition of the entire collection, photographing works to an archival standard, and uploading images and data to the digital catalogue is a major task.  Prioritising damaged art works and organising their restoration with the professional conservator is an ongoing focus.  Considerable research into the collection is also being done but much vital information has been lost to history.

4.2      Objectives

  • To collect:
    • Art works produced by artists born in the Timaru District/South Canterbury or wider Canterbury region
    • Art works produced by artists who have resided in the District or wider region
    • Art works produced in the District or wider region
    • Art works which have a permanence and do not require extensive conservation treatment or reworking
    • Art works where the District or wider region has motivated the subject matter
    • Art works which reflect the diversity and multi-cultural nature of the region, recognising the Treaty of Waitangi which honours Maori as Tangata Whenua.
  • To recognise that the Gallery has a national role in forming its collection in a complimentary way, rather than competitive way, in its relationship with other art museums.
  • To provide appropriate physical and spiritual care, and storage facilities for all works in the collection.

Works must not duplicate material already held in the collection.

4.3      Ethics

Art work known or suspected to be stolen, unethically acquired, fraudulent, or copied with fraudulent intent will not be accessioned into the collection.

Works will not be acquired with the intent of later selling, exchanging or otherwise disposing of them.

The Manager and staff will not acquire work for their personal collections which conflict with the Gallery’s collection policy.

Work will not be acquired/deaccessioned by a personal whim or fashion.

Gallery staff will abide by the Code of Ethics and Professional Practice for Museums Aotearoa.

4.4      Acquisitions

4.4.1     Introduction

The acquisition of works of art is central to an art museum’s function.  As a portion of the annual acquisition funding is provided by Timaru District Council rates, there must be transparency and collaboration regarding purchases made with rates money.

The Gallery will collect works of art which exemplify excellence and/or are of historical and/or artistic significance, to the Timaru District and wider Canterbury region.

Where appropriate, works of National and International significance could be acquisitioned into the collection to strengthen the existing collection.

The Gallery will collect works that reflect the diversity and multicultural nature of the Timaru District.

The Aigantighe Art Gallery has a national role in forming its collections in a complementary, rather than a competitive way in its relationships with other art museums.

4.4.2     Gifts and Bequests

The Gallery will consider acquisitions of works of art by gift, bequest, purchase, transfer or exchange.

The Gallery Manager has the authority to accept bequests without any input from the Community Development Committee or its Subcommittee.

Any works acquired by donation or bequest must meet the acquisition criteria described above.

Aigantighe Art Gallery reserves the right to respectfully decline any works of art that may be offered if it is considered to be unsuitable for the collection.  This decision will be made by the Gallery Manager.

In cases where a piece of work or works have been gifted by a will, probate of the will must have been granted.  In the absence of a lawful will, the deceased’s family or beneficiaries must have approved, in consultation with the Trustees for the Estate, the retention of the Gallery either as an outright gift or by purchase from the deceased’s estate.  Where no next of kin or beneficiaries can be traced, retention of the work for the Gallery shall be sought by Order of the Public Trust Office.

Offers of art works considered unsuitable for the Gallery’s collection may be directed to a more appropriate repository.

The Gallery will have a Deed of Gift to protect long term the interests of both the donor and the Gallery.

The Gallery will normally only accept unrestricted gifts.  Any conditions attached must be approved by the Gallery Manager.

Where appropriate, the Gallery Manager will be able to accept monetary value in lieu of a work, provided that the funds are deposited in the Art Works/Asset Purchases fund and be used towards future acquisitions for the Gallery.

Unless otherwise requested, written acknowledgment of the donor/bequest will accompany the art work.

4.4.3     Purchasing/Commissions

Decisions on art works to be purchased for acquisition will be made by the Gallery Manager, in line with current financial delegations.

Art works may be purchased/commissioned with funds held in trust for this specific purpose from the following sources:  bequest; rates, gifts or endowments; grants and donations; monies received from the sale of deaccessioned works; and monies received from Art Gallery fundraising.

The funds tagged for accessions and bequests will be used for the purchase of art works only and will not have the following charges levied against it; repairs and maintenance, packing and freight.

Sources of acquisitions may be artists, exhibitions, dealers, auctions or private.

4.4.4     Accessioning

All acquisitions will be accessioned into the collection by the Gallery Manager and designated staff.

Details of the acquisition will be entered into the accession register:  title of work; name of artist; date of work; date work acquired; provenance; price etc.

A photograph of the work must be included in the accession file.

A condition report of the work must be undertaken and included in the accession file.

Acquisitions will be included in the next applicable Gallery reports to the Timaru District Council.

4.4.5     Deaccessioning

The process of deaccessioning is to maintain the quality and relevance of the collection.  The decision to remove items from the collection is not to be taken lightly and therefore it is important that procedures be undertaken with care and only with strict reference to policy and procedural guidelines.

Art work will not be deaccessioned due to whim or fashion and must be respected as a valuable document and product of its time.

The Gallery Manager will prepare a deaccession proposal for each work being considered for deaccessioning, indicating the reasons why it should be removed from the collection.  The proposal and recommendations will then be presented to the Community Development Committee or its Subcommittee, who shall decide whether or not a work shall be deaccessioned.  The Gallery Manager will be responsible for ensuring that works deaccessioned are noted and records altered to reflect the change.  The method of deaccession shall be decided by the Community Development Committee or its Subcommittee.  They will authorise the Gallery Manager to carry out this decision.

When an item has been gifted, but no longer fits the Collection Policy, it should be offered back to the Donor in the first instance.  Where a work has been gifted or bequeathed the wishes of the donor must be acknowledged.

The owners or their heirs will be advised of the outcome of the decision to deaccession where possible and given the first opportunity to acquire the art work.

Where it is appropriate, the art work will be offered for purchase, gift or exchange to a public art museum with an appropriate policy, or offered for sale at public auction or sold by an approved agent.

Reasons for deaccession will be fully documented and photographed and this documentation will be retained for Aigantighe Art Gallery records.

The Grant and Wigley collections are considered as an integral part of the Gallery history and as such no works from these collections shall be considered for deaccession.

No deaccessioned item can be obtained by any person or member of his/her family who is associated with the Aigantighe Art Gallery or Timaru District Council.  The sale of such works will not be of personal benefit to employees/volunteers of the Gallery, relevant external advisors or any other parties with a declared interest in the Aigantighe Art Gallery.

Possible reasons for deaccessioning works may include but are not limited to:

  • The art work is damaged or has deteriorated to the point that it is unable to be restored or conserved or conservation is unfeasible financially
  • The art work has been discovered to have been illegally or unethically acquired
  • The art work has been found to have been fraudulently created
  • The art work is being requested for repatriation
  • The art work is a duplication of, or inferior to, some related work already in the collection
  • The art work no longer fits with Aigantighe’s collection policy
  • The art work is found to be a Health and Safety risk for members of the public and/or staff, or could damage other items in the collection
  • The provenance may be of a cultural nature or due to historic circumstances is unclear.

The Aigantighe Art Gallery is resolved to refine and improve its permanent collection.  Part of this process requires that the Gallery examines its existing collection and identifies any works of art, the significance and aesthetic merit of which falls substantially below the general level of the collection.  It if is found that such works do not enhance the Gallery’s holdings, but rather lower the overall quality, the Gallery will have the right to remove them from the permanent collection and dispose of them by the most appropriate means.  The Gallery will exercise care and caution in evaluating the merit of an art work when considered for disposal.

Deaccessioned art work will not be made available for sale to employees/volunteer staff of the Gallery, relevant external advisors, or any other parties with a declared interest in the Gallery.

The sale or disposal of art work will not be of personal benefit to employees/volunteer staff of the Gallery, relevant external advisors, or any other parties with a declared interest in the Gallery.

Where a work has been gifted or bequeathed, the wishes of the donor(s) must be acknowledged.

Where possible, in the case of donors/bequests, the original owners or their heirs will be given first opportunity to acquire the art work.

Where above is not appropriate, the art work will be offered for purchase or exchange to a national art museum with an appropriate acquisitions policy, offered for sale at a public auction, or sold by an approved agent.  If public auction is deemed to be the most appropriate method of sale, a reserve price will be set in consultation, with an art valuer.

Legal or other impediments must be identified before disposal takes place.

4.5      Loaning Of Artworks

4.5.1     Inward Loans

Art work enters the Gallery for a variety of reasons: exhibitions, research, evaluation prior to acquisition, photography and attribution or assessment, from a variety of sources (e.g. public or private institutions, public or private owners etc.).

Incoming loans will be recorded and condition reported on a loan agreement form.  A receipt will be issued to the owner/agent.

Incoming loans will be treated with the same care as the Gallery agreement formula.  Any special requirements must be agreed upon by the Gallery Manager and specified on the loan form.

Unless otherwise specified and except where work is deposited at the Gallery without prior permission from the Gallery Manager, insurance of incoming loans will be the Gallery’s responsibility.

Art work will be returned to the owner/agent at the request of the Gallery Manager or lender, or as otherwise specified on the loan form.

Incoming loans should be of a specified time period.

Where possible, the Gallery Manager will issue loan requests from public or private owners six months prior to exhibition.

4.5.2     Extended Inward Loans

Approval for extending long term loans in special circumstances (e.g. family heirloom), will be at the discretion of the Gallery Manager.

The time period and condition of the loan must be approved by the Gallery Manager, and documented on the loan form.

In general, the Gallery will be responsible for the forward and return packing, freight and insurance of the art work, unless a prior arrangement has been made.

All terms and conditions of the loan arrangement will be agreed upon between the Gallery Manager and the owner and will be documented on the loan form.

4.5.3     Outgoing Loans

Timaru District Council Civic Building:

  • In line with a recommendation adopted by the Community Development Committee on 17 September 2013, newly purchased work, purchased from rates, will be displayed in the Timaru District Council Civic building.
  • These works will be hung by a curator to ensure the correct lighting, temperature and security is obtained.
  • Works will be returned to the Gallery after no more than 6 months to ensure they are housed in the best possible environment.

Art work from the Gallery will not be loaned to individuals or private/commercial galleries, except for the purposes of conservation or framing.

The Gallery Manager will have authority to approve or decline loan requests.

A loan will be declined if, in the opinion of the Gallery Manager the condition of the work would be threatened by travel, if it is exceptionally rare or unique, or if the permanent display of the Gallery would be seriously impaired by the removal of the work requested.

In evaluating a work for loan, the record of its previous exhibition history and travel will be considered.

Loans will normally be refused if the work is already on loan, scheduled for loan or a restricted loan.

Loans will be approved if the works of art will be subjected to study, contribute a greater understanding, appreciation and knowledge of art, or the recognition of New Zealand understanding, will be furthered (e.g. overseas loans).

The Art Gallery staff must make certain that the work on loan will be packaged, transported, handled, stored and exhibited safely and securely, within accordance of national museums standards.

The condition of all outgoing works will be recorded on the approved loan agreement form and where appropriate, cumulative condition reports will be maintained by borrowing institutions.

Loans will only be approved to reputable institutions, which possess systems for environmental control e.g. temperature, humidity and lighting, and which meet the appropriate conservation standards and whose staff have demonstrated an ability to handle works of art safely.

The Gallery reserves the right to carry out periodic inspections of loans and withdraw them for any reason and at any time.

If the work is to be toured, the Gallery must receive a complete itinerary of the tour (e.g. dates and venues).  The facilities of the other exhibiting institutions must be evaluated by the Gallery staff or touring agent.

Outgoing loans will be approved only within a specified time period, not exceeding three years.

The loan will not normally be approved if the recommended maximum frequency of locations and duration of exhibition is exceeded as follows:

  • paintings – maximum of 6 locations with a total display period not to exceed 12 months within 3 years
  • prints and drawings – maximum of 4 locations with a total display period not to exceed 12 months within 3 years
  • photographs – maximum of 5 locations with a total display period not to exceed 12 months within 3 years
  • sculpture and decorative arts - maximum of 6 locations with a total display period not to exceed 14 months

Where required, extensions will only be granted for three year periods.

Indefinite or permanent loans will not be approved.

Gallery ownership of the work will be acknowledged in publications, labels and other written texts, where appropriate.

Copyright permission, in accordance with the 1994 Copyright Act, must be sought by the borrowing institution, where appropriate.

Whilst on loan, the work will not be photographed, filmed, televised, repaired, conserved, reframed or installed by any other methods other than those specified, unless authorised by the Gallery Manager.

Adopted Community Development Committee 26 April 2016

Last updated: 24 Feb 2021