Getting to know our new Director, Karl Chitham

Author: Alex Grace, Communications and Relationships Manager

With the new year freshly begun, we sat down with Karl to learn a little more about our newest member of the team.

Can you tell us how you came to lead The Dowse?

I have quite a varied background. I have just come from Tauranga Art Gallery where I was the Director and Curator. Prior to that, I’d worked in various positions in the art sector as a curator across art, social history and craft in mostly smaller centres like Whakatane, Rotorua and Hamilton. Prior to that (which is going back a few years now) I was a high school teacher.

What drew you to Lower Hutt and The Dowse?

I have quite a long association with Lower Hutt and The Dowse so I was really excited at the opportunity to come and work here. I’m particularly excited to get to know the local community and to build on the amazing things that the previous Director and the team here at the Dowse have been able to achieve.

What do you love about museums and galleries?

Museums and galleries are a way for people to be transported and to have an experience beyond the everyday. Sometimes, these experiences can blow you away by being challenging or inspiring while others might sometimes be more subtle, but they stay with you for many years.

I love the transformative nature of what we do and am really excited about the potential this offers. People will often say to me that they don’t go to galleries much because they don’t feel like they have enough knowledge or understanding of art, it’s awesome to see how this changes once they find something that really moves them – that’s when they get it and it all clicks into place.

What has been your first impression?

It’s been great spending some time getting to know the Hutt. I’ve visited the area a lot over the years (I was actually born here), but have never lived here, so it’s been great to see how energetic and vibrant the region is. The new developments around the city like the community hubs, the events centre, the gardens and the area around the Dowse are fantastic and it shows how much people here are committed to making this a great place to live.

Do you have any New Year’s resolutions?

My main focus at the moment is finding somewhere to live. Wellington is a super popular place and it seems like everyone wants to be here, so the competition is really tough.

Other than that my big thing this year is to read more (I like all sorts of topics but am a big fan of science fiction) and to visit more of those places around the country that you always say you would like to go to, but never get the chance, including exploring around the local landscape.

The warmest of welcomes Karl.  We look forward to seeing you about the museum.


Who Got the Gig? Karl Chitham, Emanuella de Ruiter. The Big Idea, 8 Feb 2019

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