Wellington Scoop

Final decisions this month on restructuring of staff at City Gallery

News from Experience Wellington (aka Wellington Museums Trust)
Wellington’s city art gallery will be retained alongside the other five institutions operated by Experience Wellington which is undergoing a proposed restructure.

The Council Controlled Organisation is consulting its 147 staff on a proposed organisational restructure which follows an updated strategy with significant input from staff.

“The change proposal is about enhancing our institutions, including City Gallery, through better allocation of resources and greater collaboration across the portfolio, and embracing of te ao Māori,” Chief Executive Dr Sarah Rusholme says.

“We want to enhance the visitor experience, including greater focus on te ao Māori and deeper engagement with our audiences.”

Dr Rusholme acknowledged the passion of people in the arts sector but refuted suggestions the gallery was under threat.

“City Gallery Wellington Te Whare Toi will continue to showcase the best contemporary art under a strong cultural leader, supported by two curators, and specialist staff dedicated to art education, gallery exhibition delivery and art community engagement.”

The staff consultation period finishes on 9th May, followed by two weeks of analysis and discussions, with final decisions on organisational structure by 26th May.

Experience Wellington is a registered charity that operates six iconic cultural institutions for the city – Capital E, Space Place at Carter Observatory, City Gallery Wellington, Nairn Street Cottage, Wellington Museum and the Cable Car Museum.

Concern about removal of Director and Chief Curator from City Gallery

Earlier News from Wellington Museums Trust
Chief Executive of Experience Wellington, Dr Sarah Rusholme, says the organisation’s visitor attractions have a unique role to play in Wellington’s recovery from Covid-19.

“As we emerge from the pandemic, Experience Wellington can play a powerful role in revitalising our city,” says Dr Rusholme. “As a proud Wellingtonian, I’m excited to welcome people back to the experiences we offer. Now’s the time to explore and be uplifted by homegrown talent, ideas, art and history and support the local tourism industry.”

“I am delighted to lead the fantastic team at Experience Wellington as we continue to create remarkable art, culture and science attractions that generate vitality, enriching the city we love.”

Dr Rusholme holds a PhD in genetics, but quickly realised she preferred to be outside the lab. She took on an MSc in science communication, and became involved in journalism – fuelling her passion for storytelling. After completing her doctorate, she helped bring the UK’s 55 million-pound National Space Centre to fruition, and left eight years later as their Director of Education and Exhibitions. After moving to New Zealand with her family in 2006, she worked for the Marsden Fund and led the feasibility study for NZ’s Science Media Centre and became the Director of Carter Observatory in 2007. Dr Rusholme was instrumental in leading a large fundraising project to update and enhance its facilities, making it the visitor experience it is today – attracting nearly 50,000 people a year.

She joined Experience Wellington in 2010, leading Capital E – a playful, creative offering for young people and the city’s third most visited place for school children. Under Dr Rusholme’s leadership funding has grown substantially. Capital E is a Creative New Zealand Toi Tōtara Haemata programme recipient, ensuring young people from pre-school through to high school can explore and grow their creative spark.

Profile: Sarah Rusholme

After gaining her PhD, Dr Sarah Rusholme left the lab for an MSc in science communication and in 1998 joined the UK’s National Space Centre start-up team, leaving eight years later as their Director of Education and Exhibitions.

Since arriving in New Zealand, Sarah has worked for the Marsden Fund at the Royal Society of New Zealand. She led the feasibility study for NZ’s Science Media Centre and became the Director of Carter Observatory in 2007, joining Experience Wellington in 2010.

In her role as Head of Strategic Development Sarah was responsible for Experience Wellington’s strategic planning, cross-organisation research initiatives, and projects that connect institutions across the organisation and city. In October 2016 Sarah moved into the role as Director Children & Young People, leading the Capital E team.

Sarah has also worked as an independent consultant and co-leads a research project with Dr Andrea Milligan at Victoria University’s Faulty of Education investigating how school student’s visits to museums and galleries can help them become socially-aware citizens.

Sarah is a New Zealand permanent resident, is married to Stephen, mum to Isaac, Rufus and Cormac, is a Trustee of Dyspraxia New Zealand and a Project K mentor.


  1. Traveller, 1. May 2021, 17:12

    When they say “Wellington’s city gallery will be retained,” are they implying that they were considering getting rid of it? Why did they consult only the staff? And are the staff happy with what’s being planned?

  2. Ms Green, 2. May 2021, 9:50

    Sarah Rusholme is qualified in story telling apparently. What story is she telling here and why? For a moment I thought that she was taking the unusual step of sacking herself, but it seems she is sacking those who understand most about how to curate a Gallery experience. Am I correct?

  3. Joolzz, 3. May 2021, 23:06

    It’s called corporate yuck-speak Ms Green. Dr Rusholme is eminently qualified to advise on genetics, but to run an art gallery?

  4. Henry Filth, 5. May 2021, 5:41

    Will the museums of Wellington be better after this latest bout of managerialism has faded?

    What odds would you give that they will be?

  5. mowcas, 13. May 2021, 23:05

    In 1999, The Wellington Museums Trust office had a staff of 3, administering the funding relationship between Wellington City Council and the City’s cultural and creative treasures: City Gallery, Museum of Wellington and Capital E which each attracted and employed experienced, respected experts in their specialist fields. Years of petty empire-building and corporate wool-pulling have left curated public programming gutted as public resources are consumed by the burgeoning brand amoeba that is ‘Experience Wellington’. Capital E is a husk of what it once was, and now the souls of both the Gallery and Museum are on the line… Wake up Wellington City!