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Old doors provide new welcome

Old doors provide new welcome

Margaret Hay, daughter of architect Louis Hay and HBMAG director Douglas Lloyd Jenkins in front of the newly reinstated museum doors, 2013, photography David Frost

The reinstatement of the original Louis Hay doors in Herschell Street signifies an important milestone in the redevelopment of the Hawke’s Bay Museum & Art Gallery (HBMAG).

The redevelopment of the new Museum will include a mixture of old and new when it opens in September 2013. A significant element of ‘old’ includes the restoration of the original Louis Hay Hawke’s Art Gallery and Museum building built in 1936 after the 1931 earthquake, to house the region’s treasures.

In the late 1970’s the doors of the Louis Hay building were relocated to become the entrance to the museum’s newly developed Century Theatre building designed by Napier architect Guy Natusch from Natusch, Shattky & Co. The doors have now made their way back to their rightful home in Louis Hay’s design, and will provide a fitting welcome to visitors using the archive and associated gallery spaces of the new Museum.

The ornate Art Deco doors feature bronze detailing and decorative glasswork and were designed especially to complete the grand front entrance to Louis Hay’s 1936 art gallery and museum building. Now reinstated to his original vision, the doors will again provide a striking introduction to the Octagon foyer, where the sculpture known fondly as the ‘Bather’ (Grande Baignante 111, by Emilio Greco purchased as a memorial to the first Museum director, Leo Bestall), will once again reside. The scene will be completed with the hanging of the vintage chandelier that has long lit up this stunning section of the original building. Director of the HBMAG Douglas Lloyd Jenkins says that it is fantastic that the doors are back where they belong, acknowledging the importance of this building to Hawke’s Bay region for generations to come.

“The original Hawke’s Bay Art Gallery & Museum building is one of Louis Hay’s most significant works but one that has been overlooked because of the unsympathetic alterations made to it in the late 1970s”. “This is a key moment in returning the building to its position as a major work of Hay’s later career and an Art Deco building of splendour, ready to rival the National Tobacco building in Ahuriri”, says Douglas Lloyd Jenkins.

The Louis Hay building will become the new home to the rich archives of Hawke’s Bay, as well as exciting new research and gallery spaces dedicated to the stories of this region.

© Scoop Media

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