In 1893 the gifts and bequests of James Tannock Mackelvie (1824–1885) to Auckland were displayed in the Gallery for the first time.

A Glaswegian Scot, Mackelvie had lived in Auckland from 1865 until 1871, taking an active part in city life. He was one of the original members of the Council of the Auckland Institute, later the Auckland War Memorial Museum. After returning to London he set about putting together an art collection, sending several consignments to Auckland from 1876 onwards. Works included a Saint Sebastian by Guido Reni, pencil drawings by JMW Turner and a bronze statue of a draped female figure, believed to have come from the ruins of Pompeii. A few months before he died he also produced a 60-page record of the works titled Catalogue of the Mackelvie Collection, for Auckland, New Zealand (1885).