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House Museum On Track For October Opening

Ravenscar House

The Ravenscar Trust has today officially gifted Ravenscar House to Canterbury Museum which will operate it as a house museum on behalf of the Christchurch and Canterbury community.

The Museum will now convert the house from a domestic dwelling to a visitor attraction which is scheduled to open to the public in October.

Ravenscar House Museum is the vision of philanthropists, Jim and Dr Susan Wakefield, whose Scarborough home was extensively damaged in the 22 February 2011 earthquakes.

The Wakefields began collecting art in the early 1990s, amassing a collection of about 300 mainly New Zealand paintings and objects, ranging from the mid nineteenth century to today and including works by some of New Zealand’s best known and much loved artists.

The Wakefields had planned to gift their Scarborough house to the people of Christchurch but the earthquake forced a change of plan. However, within 4 years, they had formed a partnership with the Museum, through their charitable Ravenscar Trust, to create a new house on land at 52 Rolleston Avenue. The house, which was built by the Trust is, after today, owned by the Museum. The site was gifted to the project by the Christchurch City Council following public consultation in 2015.

The Ravenscar Collection, which has been loaned to the Museum by the Trust, will be displayed in a domestic setting referencing the entrance lobby and four principal rooms in the Scarborough house. Designed by award-winning architects, Patterson Associates, the house is set in a landscaped garden featuring a number of sculptures.

Steve Wakefield, Chairman of the Ravenscar Trust, said that the family was incredibly excited to see Jim and Susan's vision now become a reality, and acknowledged the tremendous collaboration between the Trust, the Museum, City Council, architects, main contractors HRS Construction Limited, and all the consultants and specialists involved.

Museum Director Anthony Wright said that Susan and Jim Wakefield through the Trust had been very generous benefactors to arts and education causes, but gifting a magnificent house to the city with the full support of their family was philanthropy at an extraordinary level.

“Ravenscar House Museum is a grand and exciting new visitor attraction for the city which will enhance and complement Christchurch’s Cultural Precinct. The Museum is thrilled to have partnered with the Trust in creating this new home where the Ravenscar Collection, one of the most important private collections in the country, can be on permanent display to the public.”

Mayor Lianne Dalziel said: “The Council consultation showed overwhelming support for providing the land for the development of this magnificent gift. I know when the community sees this, they will absolutely love it. We are all grateful for the generosity of Jim and Susan Wakefield and their families.’’

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