Farewell to Dr Rodney Wilson — 29.04.13

Farewell to Dr Rodney Wilson - Ph.D. (Canterbury); Drs (Nijmegen); Dip. FA; Dip. Tchg -who died on 27 April 2013.

The Arts Foundation is sad to learn that Rodney Wilson, Arts Foundation Governor from 2002 to 2010, passed away on Saturday, 27 April.  Rodney was a highly talented and able gallery and museum director.  The Arts Foundation was very grateful to have his advice and support as a key voice during the recent re-definition of the role of the Arts Foundation Governors and through his contribution to many selection panels for both Icon and Laureate Awards.

An excellent advocate for the visual arts, Rodney provided a confident voice for architecture, furniture design and sculpture at selection meetings. Rodney, along with Sir Miles Warren, always made a wonderfully handsome pair at Arts Foundation events in their splendid bow ties.  We will miss Rodney's advice, his warm smile and laughter.

Not long ago Rodney married Maureen. The happiness this brought Rodney filtered down from the north where they lived. Our thoughts are with Maureen, Rodney's family and his many friends at this sad time.

Rodney died peacefully at his Mt Wellington home after a battle with prostate cancer. He is survived by his wife Maureen, sons Marc and Leon and stepsons Jeremy and Tim.  

Dr Rodney Wilson directed the$43,500,000 refurbishment of Auckland Museum (1994 -  1999) and the $64,500,000 second stage development of Auckland Museum (2000 - 2006.  He led a major change in statutory status, new governance and organisational cultural change at Auckland Museum since 1994. 

Dr Wilson also established the New Zealand National Maritime Museum from scratch - without funding, collections or site - and built the first true scow in 70 years, the TED ASHBY,  that daily carries passengers on Auckland Harbour. 

He directed the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne and concluded the initial scoping studies that led to the recent redevelopment of the Gallery in St Kilda Road and at Federation Square.

Dr Rodney Wilson produced New Zealand's most entrepreneurial art gallery programme at Auckland Art Gallery in the 1980s, achieved the highest exhibition attendances reported in New Zealand, and carried out major refurbishment of the Art Gallery 1980 - 1985. He produced the report that led to the consolidation of Wellington City Council funded museums and historic properties in the ‘Wellington Museums Trusts'

In more recent years he drove the significant culture change at Auckland Museum, designed to lift the institution's capability and maximise the achievements of individuals.  This led to innovative HR practices and a significant commitment to staff and volunteer training and development.


Image:  Rodney Wilson, taken at the home of Michael & Lesley Shanahan, at an Arts Foundation Laureate Donor event in 2009.  Image by Angela Busby