New Auckland Art Gallery Director to focus on growth

Publish Date : 09 Apr 2019
New Auckland Art Gallery Director to focus on growth
Kirsten Paisley, appointed as the new Director of Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki

Regional Facilities Auckland (RFA) is pleased to announce the appointment of Kirsten Paisley as Director of Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki.

Most recently, Ms Paisley was Deputy Director for the National Gallery of Australia (NGA), which houses a collection of 150,000 artworks valued at AUD$6 billion and has an annual turnover of over AUD$54 million.

Ms Paisley takes up the position at Auckland Art Gallery on 1 May, 2019.

RFA CEO Chris Brooks says Ms Paisley’s impact on the growth and success of the national art gallery across the Tasman makes her an outstanding appointment for the Gallery’s top job.

“We are delighted to welcome Kirsten to Auckland Art Gallery. Her leadership at the National Gallery of Australia and the inspirational work she has been doing sees her bring a wealth of experience to our Gallery. She is dedicated to creating powerful connections between art and people, and to growing new audiences through exciting and innovative exhibitions and programming.

"We are geared for growth, and Kirsten will provide the strategic insight and impetus to accelerate that growth.

“Following an extensive international search, we garnered a shortlist of exceptional candidates for the Director role. With the incumbent’s withdrawal last month, we were able with confidence to immediately secure Kirsten’s appointment.”

A background in contemporary and modern art practice

Ms Paisley has an extensive background in contemporary and modern art practice with over two decades of leadership and management experience in Australian art museums and contemporary art spaces.

During Ms Paisley’s three-year tenure as Deputy Director of the National Gallery of Australia, audiences grew by 10% year on year and commercial revenue significantly increased. She led successful initiatives to establish a visitor experience team, create a dedicated children’s gallery and implement a major new contemporary art commissioning programme. She supported significant inaugural commissions and exhibitions with artists such as Jess Johnson and Simon Ward, and Angelica Mesiti, whose NGA commission led to her selection as Australia’s 2019 Venice Biennale representative.

In the major exhibitions programme, Ms Paisley secured Cartier: The Exhibition, which showcased more than 300 spectacular items, such as royal tiaras, necklaces, brooches and earrings, and was viewed by over 200,000 visitors. In addition, Ms Paisley led an international curatorial team to develop the major exhibition Contemporary Worlds chronicling the explosion of contemporary Indonesian art post the fall of the Suharto regime. This is due to open at NGA in June this year; the first of its scale in Australia.

Chris Brooks says Ms Paisley’s art appreciation and unerring discernment made her the trusted steward for Australia’s national collection, as well as its AUD$10 million annual acquisition budget.

“Kirsten has personally raised several million dollars towards the realisation of indigenous Australian and international contemporary art projects at the Gallery, such as the recently unveiled infinity room, The Spirits of the Pumpkins Descended into the Heavens, by Yayoi Kusama and the soon to be unveiled works by artists, Entang Wiharso, Eko Nugroho and Melati Suryodarmo.

"Perhaps of greatest significance, over 18 months of engagement Kirsten brokered and secured a major six-year $4 million indigenous arts partnership with Wesfarmers Arts, including an international tour of the shared collections through Asia announced in October 2018.

“I am looking forward to seeing Kirsten’s impact on the vision, funding and programming for Auckland Art Gallery.”

With a career spanning a number of Australian art institutions, Ms Paisley’s senior roles include eight years as Director of the Shepparton Art Museum (SAM) in regional Victoria where she developed a business case and concept for a major new museum development. During her tenure at SAM, visitation grew by 200% and a successful rebrand garnered the ‘Best Small Museum’ award from Museums Australia.

An inclusive, dynamic Gallery

For Ms Paisley, the Auckland Art Gallery appointment is an opportunity to further build an inclusive, dynamic Gallery that reflects Auckland’s diverse communities and contributes to shaping the city’s character through major international programming and exceptional New Zealand content.

“Auckland Art Gallery has forged a place in the landscape of art museums in the Asia Pacific for its curatorial experimentation, innovative programming and sound collecting. It reflects the characteristics and aspirations of the people of New Zealand, whose leadership in our region in the spheres of culture, community engagement and social governance is celebrated globally, and is incredibly compelling.

"I feel entirely honoured to be able to play a part in New Zealand’s cultural legacy at this point in history.

“My passion is connecting this kind of capability with ambitious and daring initiatives. With an international network of supporters for the arts, I am looking forward to taking the Gallery forward into a new phase of exceptional exhibition and public programming, growing our audiences and the depth and quality of engagement, and providing even more opportunities for artists to thrive and shine.

“Together, we will create the platform for relevant, energetic, cultural and social discourse for Auckland, characterised by diversity, global connectivity and a spirit of curiosity and, importantly, good fun.”

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