A Hard Taskmaster
After twelve years in the Director's hot seat, Dr Rodney Wilson is almost ready to say good bye to the Auckland War Memorial Museum.
But it'll be another nine months before he can vacate the chair, happy with the completion of his job overseeing a massive 100 million dollar refurbishment of the aging museum.
An art historian by training, Dr Wilson has headed several of Auckland's highest profile cultural establishments over the last twenty five years.
As Director of the Auckland Art Gallery, he organised a major refit, and later built from scratch, the National Maritime Museum on Auckland's waterfront for a mere thirteen million dollars.
The War Memorial Museum has been by far his biggest job. 'When I came here in 1994 both the building and its governance structure was badly in need of an overhaul. As Director, I was reporting to forty one people on three separate governing bodies. It took special legislation through Parliament to change that'.
Rodney Wilson says he wouldn't like being called a 'trouble shooter' but he was certainly brought in as a 'change agent'. He claims to have been surprised when called a 'hard task master' in the media, but he agrees there's some truth in it.
Under his tenure, the Museum building has undergone much needed earthquake proofing. It now has sixty percent more floor space, all crowned by a new copper dome, and officially opened in December 2006. Exhibitions have been restored and modernised, and are now regularly changed.
At the end of 2006 Rodney Wilson was named by the New Zealand Herald as one of a group of 'New Zealanders of the Year'.
In September 2007 he will retire to the French influenced seaside town of Akaroa on Banks Pensinula, close to his home town of Christchurch. He plans to renovate his house there, lay out a formal garden, and then write a book on Canterbury architect Sir Miles Warren.