50th Anniversary


Join us this year as we celebrate and reflect on a jam-packed half century at The Dowse Art Museum. In this five part series, presented by The Dowse Foundation, we’ll be sinking our teeth into some juicy discussions about the things that have made and continue to make The Dowse…well, The Dowse!

Featuring fresh takes on the ups and downs of The Dowse’s 50 year history from a line-up some of Aotearoa’s most engaging personalities, including writers, comedians, politicians and art world insiders.


Not Today... Can you decolonise an art gallery? 
Sat 10 April 

Join Nigel Borell (Pirirakau, Ngāti Ranginui, Ngāi Te Rangi, Te Whakatōhea), former curator Māori at Auckland Art Gallery, Puawai Cairns (Ngāi Te Rangi, Ngāti Ranginui, Ngāti Pūkenga), Director Audience and Insight at Te Papa and Karl Chitham (Ngā Puhi, Te Uriroroi), The Dowse director, as they interrogate the past, the present moment and potential futures for Māori within the art gallery.

Watch the whole conversation here.

Buy, Borrow, Break; The Dowse Collection
Sat 5 June

A comedian, a politician, and a writer walk into The Dowse Collection… Does it sound like the setup to a bad joke?

A play on the game of difficult ultimatums, join a line-up of highly entertaining personalities as they share the three works from The Dowse Collection that they would choose to buy, borrow, and break.

Established in the 1970s, The Dowse Collection is home to over 3,500 artworks with a significant focus on studio craft—making it one of the largest collections of this type in Aotearoa. In Buy, Borrow, Break our speakers fuse personal storytelling with a deep dive into some of the remarkable pieces in our fascinating, diverse and quirky public art collection.

Case Studies and Controversies 
Sat 31 July 

How does a controversy start and why do art galleries often become the focal point of them? In this panel discussion we’ll be delving with care and attention into moments of controversy that have popped up in The Dowse’s history.

Our panellists will look to peel back the divisive framing, polarising headlines and hearsay to uncover the issues that lie at the heart of these moments of ideological rupture.

If These Walls Could Talk

Take a stroll through our unique modernist building with host Seb Clarke to discover ways in which art and architecture collide in this fascinating walking tour.

Featuring a host of knowledgeable speakers along the way, hear Roger Walker talking about his inclusion in The Dowse’s first architectural exhibition, The New Romantics in 1972. Go ‘out of bounds’ into The Dowse Collection Store, home to our art collection of 3,500 works to consider the implications of private spaces within public buildings, and hear about the ways in which the building has had to change in response to developments in art and exhibition practice.

Exploding Craft
Sat 13 November

Join us for a day of celebration, performances and talks reflecting on The Dowse’s significant and enduring relationship with Aotearoa studio craft.

Across the day, The Dowse will be brought to life with four performances led by artists working in jewellery, ceramics, textiles and glass: who look to blow up and blow out the edges of conceptual craft practice.

Join a maker-led panel discussion exploring the connotations of ‘craft’ for contemporary Māori artists, or take part in a conversation where makers discuss their tuākana/tēina relationships and how mentorship has become a key facet in the development of craft practice.