A century of wonder: An evening of celebrations

24 November 2020: A century of wonder: An evening of celebrations

A fundraising campaign to repair and clean oil paintings in the Turnbull Library collections was launched by the Turnbull Endowment Trust at the National Library in Wellington last night.

“We’d love to see these paintings publicly exhibited and looking their best”, said Paula MacLachlan, Executive Director of the Trust.

The Turnbull Library’s collections hold thousands of artworks. Some come into the collections in need of treatment. The Library stabilises the paintings from further deterioration, but generally does not fund or start major remedial work. The paintings can be seen for research purposes but are not often exhibited.

The campaign Paintings in Perpetuity invites individuals, families and organisations to choose a painting and support its treatments financially.

Last night was a chance for some of the treasures of the collections to be seen; paintings in need of cleaning, repair, glazing or framing.

“Our core mandate is to ensure that these paintings are stored in facilities that keep the works stable and available for research purposes,” said Dr Stead.

“In conservation terms, we’re not in the business of ‘restoring’ paintings. But it would be great to see some of these oils cleaned and glazed, and where necessary repaired, including framing.”

A smiling man and woman looking at a painting of a contemplative woman. The painting is in a heavy gilt frame.
Dr Oliver Stead, Curator Drawings Paintings and Prints and Ms Barbara Blake. Image Mark Beatty, Alexander Turnbull Library.

The event honoured a member of the Friends of the Turnbull Library, Ms Barbara Blake as the first campaign donor. The framed oil selected by Ms Blake entered the Turnbull collection in 1989 in a heavily deteriorated state. The contribution means that remedial work can be scheduled and in due course publicly displayed.

“The Turnbull Library is the guardian of so many treasures which they care for and protect on our behalf. I hate to think that our grandchildren might not be able to discover their New Zealand and Pacific history through seeing the collections at the Turnbull Library, and I’m happy that my donation is a small action to help keep these treasures accessible and alive.” says Ms Blake.



Alexander Turnbull Library: Alexander Turnbull — Wellington merchant, yachtsman, golfer, collector, confirmed bachelor and handsome dandy — bequeathed his library to the nation in 1918. Two years later, in 1920, the doors of the library opened for the first time to the public. Since then, the collections and services have grown to form a research library of international standing within the National Library of New Zealand. The Turnbull mandate is to collect, protect, preserve and make accessible its collections as documentary heritage and taonga for all New Zealanders.

Turnbull Endowment Trust: Established in 1934, The Turnbull Endowment Trust was founded to add value to the core services and collections of the Alexander Turnbull Library. The Trust invests bequests and financial donations as an independent charitable entity. The resulting investment return enables research grants, exhibitions, publications, and other initiatives that fall outside of core government-funded activities.

Turnbull Endowment Trust contact — Paula MacLachlan, Executive Director

Turnbull Endowment Trust — more information about Paintings in Perpetuity

ATL100 documentary short film

Note to editors

Alexander Turnbull Library is part of the National Library of New Zealand. New Zealand's national documentary heritage collections, including both published and unpublished items, are held in the Alexander Turnbull Library.

Images of Barbara Blake, Dr Oliver Stead, provided. Please credit Mark Beatty, Alexander Turnbull Library.

Media contact

For further information, please contact media@dia.govt.nz or call +64 27 535 8639