New Auckland Art Gallery director named

Regional Facilities Auckland, the body that oversees Auckland’s arts, culture, heritage, leisure, sports and entertainment venues, has appointed Rhana Devenport as the new director of Auckland Art Gallery.

Rhana Devenport is director of the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery in New Plymouth and has more than 20 years’ experience curating exhibitions focusing on Australasian and international contemporary art practice. 

She replaces former director Chris Saines, who resigned in March this year to become the director of the Queensland Art Gallery.  She will take up the position in July.

Mr Saines took the gallery through difficult years as many local objected to the redevelopment of the gallery. When it was finally completed it won the major architectural and design prizes of last year.

“Rhana was the leading candidate for the position from a very strong field, identified through a global executive search programme,” says Dame Jenny Gibbs, deputy chairwoman of the Regional Facilities Auckland board and the convener of the panel which made the appointment.  

“Rhana has an extensive background in contemporary and modern art practice in New Zealand and an excellent national and international network.

"She has a profound dedication to creating powerful links between art and audiences in exciting, innovative exhibitions and public programmes during over two decades of leadership and management experience in Australasian art museums, biennales and cultural festivals," Dame Jenny says.

For the last seven years, Ms Devenport has led the Govett-Brewster where she has considerably enhanced its reputation as a leading and courageous contemporary art museum.

"She has worked on a number of fronts from curating a series of significant exhibitions, fundraising for the new Len Lye Centre and deepening the relationship of the gallery with Maori and Pacific communities.” 

Ms Devenport’s previous positions include manager of public programmes with the Biennale of Sydney (2005-06) and senior project officer with the Asia Pacific Triennial, Queensland Art Gallery (1994-2004), where she played a formative role in the Triennial’s development.

She was also curator in residence with Artspace Auckland (2005) and visual arts manager with the Sydney Festival (2004).

She has initiated and curated major exhibitions, commissions and publications with contemporary New Zealand artists including Peter Robinson, Lisa Reihana, Bill Culbert, Fiona Jack, Fiona Pardington and Alex Monteith.

She has a strong connection with cultural practice in Asia and the Pacific and has curated projects with leading international artists including Nam June Paik, Judith Wright, Nalini Malani, Lee Mingwei, Jin Jiangbo, Pinaree Sanpitak, Zhang Peili, Yin Xiuzhen and Song Dong.

She has undertaken internships in leading international art museums in Japan, the US and the UK, and has served on numerous cultural advisory panels nationally and internationally.