The Rutherford Trust was established in 1988 as part of the Electricity Corporation of New Zealand’s commitment to “encourage and enhance New Zealand’s cultural life and heritage.” Part of this mission was achieved by building up a collection of artworks over a decade with the aim of reflecting the development of 20th century New Zealand art and making this collection available to the public. The Trust was named after the building that housed the operations of ECNZ for many years, Rutherford House in Wellington. The Trust assembled a rich and diverse collection of 140 works of mainly contemporary New Zealand art, with all decades from the 1930s to the 2000s represented. Key works from Frances Hodgkins and Rita Angus sit beside works from all the major names of the 1980s and 90s.
Following the successful 2003 exhibition Landscapes of the Heart at Aratoi Wairarapa Museum of Art and History, Masterton, the Trust commenced negotiations with the museum to jointly exhibit, curate and administer the Collection. Aratoi soon became the home of The Rutherford Trust Collection and a number of exhibitions were developed over the years: Damien Skinner curated Solid Gold –Classic Hits from the Rutherford Trust Collection which travelled (2007-8); Big Ideas was mounted in 2010 and Mechanical Mind in 2012. In 2013 the James Wallace Arts Trust presented a landmark exhibition at Pah House in Auckland, and The Rutherford Trust Collection is now on permanent loan to the James Wallace Arts Trust, enabling greater visibility of the collection to the public. Last year an agreement was created with The Wallace Arts Trust to retain a portion of the collection in the Wellington region, housed at Aratoi. This is an opportunity for visitors to reacquaint themselves with this important collection essential to New Zealand art history.
The Rutherford Trust Collection is on Permanent Loan to The Wallace Arts Trust.
Text extracted from the Aratoi Wairarapa Museum of Art and History website.