University art collection worth $80m

The Hocken Collections’ building in Anzac Ave.PHOTO: ODT FILES
The Hocken Collections’ building in Anzac Ave.PHOTO: ODT FILES
The University of Otago’s art collection is worth more than $80 million.

While the majority of the overall collection is part of the university’s extensive, museum-like collection at the Hocken Library, a university spokeswoman said the university’s "embellishment collection" featured about 1500 pieces.

The Hocken collection featured about 17,000 pieces.

A 2019 insurance report valued the embellishment collection at more than $10 million and the Hocken collection at more than $70 million.

Art in the embellishment collection, used to adorn and enhance university buildings, was on display across the university, the spokeswoman said.

There were some smaller collections within the broader collection, such as the staff club collection.

The university declined to detail its 10 most valuable works, citing security concerns.

Ralph Hotere and Colin McCahon were two of the university’s best-represented artists.

The McCahon mural in the Dunedin campus university library was a work commissioned by university benefactors specifically for the university.

The entire university collection was insured and security features were in place.

The university was not aware of any lost or misplaced art from the collection, she said.

While it was not all on continuous public display, the Hocken’s mandate was to preserve its collection for future generations.

Researchers and the public could see the Hocken collection through online catalogues and could ask to see items in the Hocken reading rooms.

The Hocken also hosted weekly public tours of the collection stores and a monthly opportunity to visit the art store, she said.

The university also loaned art to external museums and galleries.

hamish.maclean@odt.co.nz

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