Caring for Aotearoa New Zealand’s contemporary jewellery history

Author: Alex Grace, Communications and Relationships Manager

Help us make a new home for our contemporary jewellery collection.


He toi whakairo, he mana tangata

We exist to provide connections between art and people and we do this in a whole lot of ways. From caring for our collection of taonga to creating exhibitions that spark conversation, our work is in service of art and of you – our fantastic visitors and supporters.

Our decisions help shape the story of Aotearoa New Zealand's art, today and into the future. The artists we support, the exhibitions and publications we make, and the artworks we bring into our collection, all feed into a rich and diverse art history. The Dowse is nearly 50 years old now, and we take our role as kaitiaki of a significant piece of New Zealand’s art history seriously.

As we prepare for our 50th anniversary in 2021, we are looking at the work we do and identifying ways that we can make a positive contribution to our community and prepare better for the future. One of the projects we've identified is rehousing our contemporary jewellery collection. The Dowse holds one of New Zealand’s most significant collections in this area – over 300 pieces, made between the 1970s and today.

While our current storage for our contemporary jewellery collection is adequate, we know it needs upgrading to protect current and future collection items. Our jewellery collection is heavily in demand for exhibitions and research, and as a Wellington institution our collection store is prone to more than occasional seismic rock’n’roll action. Our plan is to purchase a custom-made drawer system to house the collection (currently we’re living our environmental commitments to the core and re-purposing old filing cabinets, a solution that has reached the end of its life-span).

Our current storage solution

Our current storage solution

Buying the drawers is one thing. On top of that we need help with the specialist and labour-intensive part of the mahi: creating the nests and supports for each piece of jewellery, to nestle them safely and securely into their new home. We are fortunate to have access to skilled museum staff who can help us with this – but we need to pay them for their time. We’re a small and busy team here, and the weeks of work we anticipate being needed for this project just can’t be fitted into business as usual.

For this reason we are asking for your donations on Boosted. The Dowse Foundation has generously promised to match your donations up until our goal. That means that if you give us $10 we get $20, and if we fundraise $5,000 from the Boosted community, we get $10,000. It’s a very good deal!

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