Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Non-Core Business? An examination of university art galleries in New Zealand Aotearoa

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posted on 2021-11-15, 10:50 authored by Baines, Penelope

University art galleries are the most common form of campus museum in New Zealand and are increasingly viewed as alternative and innovative interdisciplinary teaching tools. Much of the literature concerning university art galleries discusses the potential of these organisations to act as forums, laboratories and portals for the presentation of diverse ideas within institutions of higher education. Yet these organisations are often overlooked by their parent organisation and considered superfluous to the university’s core business. Despite the ubiquity of university art galleries, little research has been undertaken regarding these organisations within the context of Aotearoa New Zealand. This dissertation explores this issue by examining the ways in which university art galleries have integrated themselves into their university communities.  This dissertation provides a general and concise overview of university art galleries in New Zealand and then presents two in-depth case studies, examining first the Gus Fisher Gallery and then the George Fraser Gallery at the University of Auckland. By utilising a wide range of sources including international and local theoretical literature, interviews, and documentation of public programmes and exhibition histories, these two case studies demonstrate that university art galleries contribute to their parent organisation in a variety of ways. These include serving as an important public interface for the university by showcasing academic and creative scholarship undertaken by the institution’s staff, students, and alumni; acting as a vehicle through which the university can achieve strategic and academic goals and objectives, and assisting the university in fulfilling its duty to act as the “critic and conscience of society”.  This dissertation makes a contribution to museum studies and current museum practice by addressing a gap in the New Zealand literature on this topic. It is the first critical academic analysis of university art galleries in this country situated in relation to British and American theory. In particular, it builds upon and refines Janet Marstine’s argument that university art galleries can lead in the development of the Post-Museum and questions whether Marstine’s theories can apply to the New Zealand context.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline

Museum and Heritage Studies

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Museum and Heritage Studies

Victoria University of Wellington Unit

Museum and Heritage Studies

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code


Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Art History, Classics and Religious Studies


McCarthy, Conal; McCredie, Athol