Our conservation area has a history of almost 60 years and is the oldest of its kind in the country.
As Auckland City Art Gallery (ACAG), as it was called then, we were the first art gallery or museum in New Zealand to employ a conservator. Lesley Lloyd was appointed as Restorer in 1956 by the then Director, Peter Tomory, and a Restoration Studio was set up the following year. In 1968, Lloyd secured a sizeable equipment grant from the Gulbenkian Foundation in order to establish a cooperative conservation service for museums and art galleries in New Zealand. As there was limited expertise in conservation in this country at the time, we took on an outreach role.
In 1978, Kate Woodgate Jones was appointed National Conservator, a position that was funded by the Department of Internal Affairs. She was joined by Ed Kulka (works of art on paper) and followed by Mervyn Hutchinson (paintings), who both became our Gallery Conservators when the Northern Regional Conservation Service was set up in 1984. The first two Regional Conservators were Chris Seager (works of art on paper) and Sarah Hillary (paintings). Central government funding was eventually phased out and, in order for the service to continue, we needed to expand the client base to include private individuals.
In 1998, we appointed a part-time Conservation Assistant and more recently, in 2010, Annette McKone became our first Objects Conservator responsible for our growing collection of sculpture and installations. Over the last 15 years, our conservators have been increasingly involved in collaborative research projects, offering internships and public programmes, as well as conservation exhibitions.