Past Presents: Looking into the art collection highlighted the depth and diversity of Te Papa’s art through a twin focus – the history of the collection, and the history of New Zealand’s art over the past 150 years. The origins of works ranged from 16th-century Italy to contemporary New Zealand. The selection of art works displayed included both recognisable favourites and surprising, lesser-known pieces.
The exhibition was centred on five themes:
- 'Past masters’ displayed pre-1900 works, encapsulating the period before the opening of the National Art Gallery.
- 'New century’ covered art from the early 20th century through to the 1930s.
- ‘Home ground’ displayed New Zealand modernist works from the 1940s and 1950s.
- ‘Pacific boundaries’ covered the three decades from 1960, during which the collecting focus turned from the United Kingdom to the USA and the Pacific.
-‘Collecting the contemporary’ featured a selection of recent art acquisitions.
Text taken from Te Papa website.