Rodney Wilson: Tribute to a Practical Visionary

Rodney-Wilson-Portrait-for-web

Rodney Wilson, one of New Zealand’s most influential museum and gallery directors died on 27 April 2013.

After a long battle with cancer, Rodney Wilson, Cultural Icon, interviewer and a great friend of the Cultural Icons project has passed away. His influential career in the cultural field saw him lead a series of organisations, museums and galleries in a manner that revolutionised the way New Zealand displayed, consumed and distributed art and historical artifacts.

Rodney (far left) at the opening of his exhibition 'Mo's Kitchen - An anthropology of the kitchen' at Depot Artspace in February 2012.

Rodney (far left) at the opening of his exhibition ‘Mo’s Kitchen – An anthropology of the kitchen’ at Depot Artspace in February 2012.

Rodney’s passion for art and culture saw him lead institutions such as the Auckland War Memorial Museum, the Auckland Art Gallery, and the  Robert McDougall Art Gallery (now called the Christchurch Art Gallery) through significant periods of growth, refurbishment and bringing them at par with some of the most high calibre art repositories in the world.

The Auckland Maritime Museum opening celebration (1993)

The Auckland Maritime Museum opening celebration (1993)

His passion for New Zealand’s maritime history and the sport of sailing saw his established the New Zealand National Maritime Museum from scratch – without funding, collections or site – and built the first authentic scow in 70 years (the Ted Ashby).

Ted Ashby in full sail

Ted Ashby in full sail

Along with his exceptional management and board roles, Rodney was significant in shifting the way museums and galleries in New Zealand collaborated with each other for the securement of international touring exhibitions, lobbying central government for improved conditions and that way significantly shifting the quality of New Zealand’s cultural landscape.

Our deep condolences to his wife, children and all the friends he left behind.

The opening of the Rodney Wilson tribute exhibition at Satellite gallery 2011.

The opening of the Rodney Wilson tribute exhibition at Satellite gallery 2011.

In June 2011 a tribute exhibition titled Rodney Wilson: Tribute to a Practical Visionary was mounted at Satellite gallery. The exhibition which features an assemblage of personal accolades, anecdotes and acknowledgements from his friends, contemporaries and colleagues has been re-mounted within the Depot’s Outerspace gallery to pay homage to a man who lived a life full of ‘Vision, Belief and Courage’.

A tribute to Rodney by Lyndy Sainsbury

A tribute to Rodney by Lyndy Sainsbury

The Rodney Wilson tribute will remain on display in the Outerspace Gallery until mid-May. Rodney was interviewed by Hamish Keith about his outstanding life and career for the Cultural Icons series. You can watch the full episode here.

The opening of Rodney's painting exhibition 'Mo's Kitchen' at Depot Artspace 2012.

The opening of Rodney’s painting exhibition ‘Mo’s Kitchen’ at Depot Artspace 2012.

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