The Aratoi collection is unique in the Wairarapa and contains close to 4,000 items of regional, national and international significance, from taonga Māori and social history to artworks from the colonial to the contemporary.
Barbara Hepworth's sculpture 'Galliard - Forms in Movement' (1956) was the founding work in the collection. Aratoi is the first institution in New Zealand to own a sculpture by the English artist.
There are works by artists of national importance such as Colin McCahon, Toss Woollaston, Robin White, Bill Sutton, Israel Birch, Elizabeth Thomson, and artists of great local significance such as Roy Steer, who bequeathed a large collection of work - he was the subject of one of the opening exhibitions in the new museum.
The Hepworth sculpture was a catalyst for the Hansells Sculpture Awards. These awards, held annually and then biennially at the Wairarapa Arts Centre (the forerunner of Aratoi) in the 1970s and early 1980s, were a national sculpture competition that attracted emerging and established artists. It was the only one of its kind at the time, and many of these artists now see it as an important event in their careers. Aratoi owns an important collection of works from the awards.
The Aratoi collection is the only public collection of art works in the Wairarapa.
Explore Aratoi’s collections on the NZMuseums website.
NZMuseums is the initiative of National Services Te Paerangi, a team at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, in Wellington, New Zealand.