Wellington’s City Gallery to close for two years

Wellington’s main art gallery will close its doors for two years due to construction work at Te Ngākau Civic Square as well as building repairs.

City Gallery Te Whare Toi will close on June 30 until 2026.

The main access to the gallery’s large 1940s art deco building via Te Ngākau Civic Square will be closed in June, while demolition work is carried out on the nearby civic administration building, which is vulnerable to earthquakes.

Experience Wellington chief executive Diana Marsh said exhibitions would continue to be shown at other venues, including Te Papa and the Dowse Art Gallery in Lower Hutt.

The gallery was always scheduled to move in 2025 so the building could undergo repairs and maintenance, including the installation of an elevator, he said.

“We have decided to leave a little early because of the work that is being done in Te Ngākau Square, so that square in Wellington, and the situation changed and we made the decision that in order for Wellingtonians to be able to properly access our exhibitions, that “They’re amazing over the six months, we needed to put them somewhere that was accessible and wouldn’t potentially compromise the exhibits.”

Once closed, the square could not be accessed via Victoria Street, which was the main access not only for visitors but also for bringing in large works of art, he said.

Initially, the gallery was simply going to close, but now that it has closed earlier than expected, City Gallery will continue, but in several different locations, he said.

The team had done a remarkable job moving some of the exhibits in a matter of two or three weeks, he said.

Negotiations were still ongoing in terms of locations for some exhibitions, but gallery staff were looking at a variety of locations and how they could best reach Wellingtonians and visitors to the capital, he said.

“We can confirm that we will be going to Te Papa with our Generation

When asked if City Gallery was guaranteed to return to its building in 2026, Marsh said he didn’t know, but that was what the council had said.

The gallery’s closure was a blow, but it was exciting to see Te Ngākau Civic Square become “an incredible arts hub for Wellington” with music organisations, City Gallery and the central library, he said.

In December 2023, the gallery significantly reduced its weekday opening hours to a few hours a day, from 4:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., to accommodate construction work on the city’s new library.