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Art Gallery names new Visitor Experience Manager

16 August 2006

Breaking down the perceived barrier of the Christchurch Art Gallery’s architectural façade in drawing in visitors is the key challenge identified by Blair Jackson in his new role as the Art Gallery’s Visitor Experience Manager.

Mr Jackson, who takes up the key management role in October, said there has been a lot of talk about the building and its physical barriers. “I see these as a challenge. There are some really exciting things you can do with the building by working in a more visual way, using the forecourt and foyer to draw in visitors and when inside making them feel more comfortable in the space.”

Mr Jackson joins the Christchurch Art Gallery from Dunedin Public Art Gallery where he has worked for the last eight years as Public Programmes Manager.

In announcing Mr Jackson’s appointment today, Christchurch City Council General Manager Community Services Stephen McArthur said the new Visitor Experience Manager role was pivotal in delivering the Gallery’s new Vision, the Paradigm Shift or Five-year Strategic Plan and KPIs.

“Mr Jackson brings to the role extensive knowledge and experience working in the gallery environment, strong team leadership skills, the successful delivery of exhibition projects, such as the international blockbuster The Pre-Raphaelite Dream: Paintings and Drawings from Tate Collections, the management of curatorial teams, visitor and education programmes, and gallery design and technical skills.”

Mr McArthur said under the Paradigm Shift there was a new emphasis on creating a visitor experience that was not only consistent but delivered a high standard of excellence. “Key to this visitor experience is creating a heightened interest in what is happening in the Gallery through the delivery of an exhibition programme that stimulates, challenges and evokes a positive reaction.”

Mr Jackson describes his move to Christchurch as a “coming home”, back to a city he left 16 years and now returns “to work 25 metres up the road”.

He lived for almost 10 years in Christchurch during the mid 1980s to mid 1990s, coming to Christchurch from Napier in 1984 to study a Bachelor of Fine Arts at the University of Canterbury. His first job in 1988 was as Gallery Assistant at the C.S.A. Gallery. Two years later he became the Gallery’s Exhibitions Officer/Collection Manager.

In 1993 he moved to the Manawatu Art Gallery as Registrar, then in 1996 became the Head of Exhibition Services at The Science Centre and Manawatu Museum and Manawatu Gallery. It is where he worked until moving to Dunedin in 1998 as Public Programmes Manager for the Dunedin Public Art Gallery and Otago Settlers Museum.

Mr Jackson said it was a really great time to be joining the Christchurch Art Gallery and be involved in the development of the Gallery. “The visitor experience is an area that I am really passionate about and with the Paradigm Shift there is an exciting framework for the future and a new way of thinking.

“I welcome the opportunity to develop new and innovative ways for the Gallery to educate and engage new and enlarged audiences in the interpretation of art.”

He said the Christchurch Art Gallery has the potential to be one of the most dynamic cultural facilities in New Zealand.

For further information phone communications adviser Jan McCarthy on 03 941 6412 or 027 637 7412.


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