It is with great sadness that we share the news that our respected colleague and dear friend William McAloon passed away on Sunday 8 April.
William has been Curator Historical New Zealand Art at Te Papa since 2005. A key member of the art team, William was a superb curator, with a fine eye and a piercing intellect.
Over the years, William also worked as a curator at the Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, the Dunedin Public Art Gallery and as a freelance curator, writer and art historian working with artists and institutions throughout New Zealand. He has a formidable and well-deserved reputation as a writer and art historian.
William was responsible for curating one of Te Papa’s best-loved exhibitions, Rita Angus: Life and Vision (with Jill Trevelyan) in 2008, which continues to tour venues around New Zealand. More recently he played an instrumental role in the exhibition Oceania: Early Encounters in 2011 and in developing a new approach to exhibiting the art collection on Level 5.
William’s legacy at Te Papa is marked also by a selection of remarkable New Zealand art works that he acquired for the national art collection. Art at Te Papa, the book that William edited about the history of art at the Museum, is a touchstone resource on Te Papa’s institutional history and New Zealand’s national art collection.
William is sorely missed by his friends and colleagues at Te Papa. Our deepest sympathy goes to William’s wife, Courtney, their families and friends.
Kua hinga tēnei rātā whakamarumaru o ngā taonga toi o te motu. He kanohi hōmiromiro, he ihumanea, he kaitiaki nō tōna pātaka iringa kōrero, kua kore. He toki tārai kōrero mō ngā toi o Aotearoa me ōna hītori, kua riro. Kāti rā, ‘He kokonga whare e kitea, he kokonga ngākau e kore e kitea’.
Moe mai rā, e te hoa.
This rātā tree, a shelter for the treasures of the nation has fallen. A keen eye for detail, intellectually brilliant, a curator without peer, is no more. A carver of words, an art historian has left us. It is said, ‘The corners of a house can be seen, but not so the corners of the heart’.
Sleep well, friend. Rest in peace.
Director Collections and Research
Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa