Rescue Me
By Andrew Frame

Beloved and I are thinking of adding to our household. In fact, we’re considering adopting.

We’re not getting a pet. Next door’s tortoiseshell cat has decided we’re reasonable company whenever its usual servants (owners) are at work. We’re not going for the “For just one dollar a day” child sponsor option either. For one dollar a day, I can barely keep my chocolate addiction under control.

And we’re not adopting a baby (“Yet”, says Beloved). Someone at the IRD with too much time on their hands worked out it costs upwards of $250,000 to raise a child to the age of 18. It’s a lot of money and an interesting bit of information, but of little actual use. Unless you wanted to know the market value of your offspring so, at age 18, you can sell them off to recoup your expenses.

The adoption we have in mind is a painting.

On a recent trip to the Hawke’s Bay Museum & Art Gallery in Napier, we came across their “Rescue Me” exhibit. Within the 2000-plus pieces of the Museum’s fine art collection, there are some which have had hard lives, been damaged or are just feeling their age. To look after these works, HBMAG started an adoption programme where the public can help in their repair and conservation. We had seen the first adoption programme in 2007 and the current exhibit had four of the inaugural artworks on show with their conservations complete.

They looked fantastic. Where there had been holes, cracks and flaking, was now pristine canvas and paint, remounted into their frames.

Eight of the current twenty-two works on display have been adopted, with ‘prices’ ranging from $450 to $2,000. If you want to adopt a painting, but don’t happen to have a spare two thousand dollars on you, some of the works are divided into ‘shares’ of $500 which you can part-adopt.

Donations are also being taken in the gallery to conserve a portrait of William Marshall (Hawke’s Bay’s first school master), to bring him up to the standard of his wife’s portrait which has already been adopted.

When you adopt a painting, you will receive information on its history and background (its “provenance”), and what is required to conserve the work. The piece is sent to the Auckland Art Gallery where a team of highly skilled art conservators work on returning the piece to its former glory. A “before” and “after” example is illustrated below.

Adopters receive running updates on how their artwork is going; get a private viewing of the completed work on return, their name (“conservation made possible by …”) on the artwork’s description plate and, in my opinion the coolest part, their very own reproduction of the adopted work.

My personal favorite of the current works up for adoption is a portrait of Te Rawara Chief Atama Paparangi by none other than Charles Fredrick Goldie. One third of the painting had been adopted and with a little bit of luck and penny saving, there could be a Goldie with my name on it, well, next to it.


If you would like to adopt a painting or want more information, contact Pam Joyce, Marketing Team Leader at the Hawkes Bay Museum and Art Gallery in Herschell Street Napier, online at or phone her on 835 7781. Thank you to Pam for running me through the process and the information.

William Patterson, Unknown artist, 1831, Hawke’s Bay Cultural Trust – Ruawharo Ta-u-Rangi, Gifted by Miss E.B. Webb

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